g r o t t o 1 1

Peeve Farm
Breeding peeves for show, not just to keep as pets
Brian Tiemann
Silicon ValleyNew York-based purveyor of a confusing mixture of Apple punditry, political bile, and sports car rentals.

btman at grotto11 dot com

Read These Too:

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James Lileks
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As the Apple Turns
Entropicana
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Capitalist Lion
Red Letter Day
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Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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10/25/2004 - 10/31/2004
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11/25/2002 -  12/1/2002
11/18/2002 - 11/24/2002
11/11/2002 - 11/17/2002
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10/28/2002 -  11/3/2002
10/21/2002 - 10/27/2002
10/14/2002 - 10/20/2002
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12/31/2001 -   1/6/2002
12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Saturday, October 23, 2004
02:26 - It's quite simple, really

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These people must not win.

Seriously. Come on, people.

Friday, October 22, 2004
20:59 - If Kerry wants to murder someone, now would be the perfect time to do it
http://sgtstryker.com/index.php/archives/pre-election-post-alcs-thoughts/

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Check out this very good post by ThePie of Sgt. Stryker's Daily Briefing. It sure does seem like Kerry's enjoying an immunity that diplomats double-parked on 42nd Street might envy, doesn't it?

- How can Lurch go around shooting defenseless geese and the PETA folks not get mad? Imagine if Bush had gone hunting and bagged a goose. He’d be about as popular as Daniel LaRusso when he first moved to LA. My other favorite part of this story was that even the AP, a truly liberal news organization, called it a pure photo-op. They didn’t even try to disguise this as something Kerry loves to do. It’s so obvious now that he is out of touch with the rest of the common men and women of the United States that even his own supporters can’t bring themselves to lie anymore. Oh, and just so you liberals don’t have too much of a moral debate about your candidate shooting animals with guns, no one in the media actually saw Kerry shoot the 12-gauge shotgun he was carrying. And judging by his 40% hit rate at a skeet range several months ago, it’s doubtful he actually hit anything if he did shoot the thing.

There's plenty more. Oh, and Powerline has the Photos from the Opportunity.

The man could drive a Hummer through a protected wetland while shouting racial epithets at bewildered spectators standing on shore, and the Left would still be floundering after him, grins fixed like bayonets, holding his banner high out of the muck.

UPDATE: You know, it occurs to me that if Kerry loses, given all the bizarre gaffes and foul-ups and transparently obvious incidents where his campaign has tried so bumblingly to manufacture some kind of even marginally plausible opportunity for him to scrape up a few more votes from this group or that demographic or the other bunch of sports fans, the story of his campaign from behind the scenes is going to make one hell of a book.

Hell, I'd buy it. It'd probably be side-splitting. Especially if Kerry grows a sense of humor, somehow, after the election's over. It worked for Bob Dole...


17:14 - Action Hank isn't rugged enough to be on this page
http://www.worldbeardchampionships.com/

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This is the coolest thing I have seen in an extremely long time: The World Beard and Moustache Championships.

Beard categories from "Fu Manchu" to "Musketeer" to "Freestyle".

That just cracks me up. It so rocks.


11:33 - Taking a step back for a moment

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11:30 - Don't get in his way

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I tell you, it's downright unnerving to see Arnold Schwarzenegger appearing on TV in the middle of The Simpsons, putting on his best steely Terminator face (you know, the one where you can only see his lower teeth), and denouncing the untaxed proliferation of Indian gaming.

It's cool, but it's unnerving. (And it particularly would be if I were a casino owner.)

Thursday, October 21, 2004
00:50 - It helps when the chorus is reading from the same script

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In response to this post from earlier today, reader B.I. Simpson e-mails:

I think there's one point that's being forgotten.

That point is, as far as the press is concerned, Democrats can do no wrong.

If you look back, you see:

1. "Clinton was a draft dodger." MSM: Cut the man some slack! No one wanted to go to Vietnam! Let's focus on today, instead!
"Bush was a draft dodger' [which I don't believe]. MSM: He's unfit to lead!

2. "Bush was kind of wild in his college days." MSM: He should be thrown out!
"Clinton was kind of wild in his presidency." MSM: That's not important, that's a distraction. Partisan attack!

And so on. Granted, Clinton was granted an astonishing love by the press that I have never seen before or since. He could simply do no wrong, so he may be a bad example.

But my larger point is that, should Kerry win, and he decides that we need to stay the course in Irag, and move on to Iran and Syria, the press will shower these actions with accolades and talk about how he has "the courage to face the tough challenges," "he's not afraid of the hard road," "he's leading this nation so we can bring peace and democracy to the world," etc.

That opens up a very interesting discussion. What if, let's say, 9/11 had occurred on the watch of a Democratic president that the press already liked, and who was as evangelical about American ideals as Bush is? What if the media had actually been a cheerleader for that President's aggressive vision of exporting liberty and democracy to the Middle East in order to smother terrorism in its cradle? What if we'd had no internecine battle to fight between the Administration and the mass media, always obstructing and gainsaying each successive step in the War on Terror? I have to imagine we'd have chewed through Afghanistan and Iraq in half the time as actually happened, and perhaps moved on to yet more ambitious projects, all with as much popular support as the Kosovo action or the Gulf War.

Now, this isn't to suggest that I think switching to Kerry at this point would help in this way even slightly. It's a prerequisite for said hypothetical Democratic President to believe viscerally in those American ideals we're trying to push on the world's Muslim theocracies and megalomaniacal dictatorships. I just don't get any sense that John Kerry has any such beliefs—the extent to which he believes in the transformative power of liberty is the extent to which he can leverage the PR points of "free speech" during popular political movements to further his own career, and little more; like so many Leftists I've known, and like myself all through high school and college, it seems as though for him to speak in frank tones about individual liberty and inalienable human rights is so much uncomfortable play-acting, like putting on a dress for an authentic Shakespearean role. He's an opportunist and a phony, and I can't see him as a champion advancing any American ideals beyond our borders because, well, he's embarrassed by them: they get in the way of his adopting other people's trendy ideas imported from the fashionable parts of the world.

Besides which, the very act of switching Presidents is going to be dangerous in itself. In the eyes of the rest of the world, for us to swap out Bush for anybody is going to make us look conciliatory and unsure of our footing; even if we voted Pat Robertson into office, or Tom DeLay, or a reincarnated Reagan, the terrorists would still see it as a victory—the man they attacked would be gone, and they'd still be operating. That's why Saddam Hussein fashioned himself a victor over the U.S. in the Nineties: he was still in office after Desert Storm... and Bush wasn't. Who in his part of the world could argue?

No, we can't change horses now. This isn't World War II, where our opponents were whole nations with sophisticated international diplomats and modern cosmopolitan populaces; this isn't a total war of attrition where every citizen of every involved country is effectively part of the armed forces, where the President serves as the General and might be swapped out for reasons as simple as gastroenteritis, and the military machine would still go on, pursuing the greater goal that everyone clearly sees. This is something much more personal, more visceral: a war between figureheads, where there's no point in coming up with vague racial stereotypes ("Nips", "Krauts") for the various players as we did back then, and where everything is centered to some extent or other on the movements of Bush, Blair, Anzar, Howard, Saddam, al-Zarqawi, bin Laden. Any one such figurehead disappearing from the stage and being replaced by another fundamentally changes the rules. Victory is assured, in part, by keeping our figurehead in the game longer than the other guys can keep their figureheads in the game.

Perhaps it's true that Bush is a far from ideal person to have had in office on the morning of September 11th, if only because of the inevitably hostile media; maybe things would have gone far more smoothly and successfully, and maybe indeed the world would be a much improved place already, if John McCain or Joe Lieberman or, say, Zell Miller had been in office at the time. But it could also have been far, far worse: just think, for example, if Jimmy Carter had had to give that address on September 20th.

But just the same, such speculation is pointless. We're in the situation we're in, and all that remains to us is to make the best decisions possible with the hand we're dealt, to borrow from Jackson's Gandalf. Right now that means proving to the world that we care about victory on our current course more than we care about popularity on the world stage or with the talking heads on the evening news. What we need is to plant our feet and insist that we'd rather do the right thing than the popular thing, just as Bush said during the second debate; and since we have a choice between a man who feels comfortable saying those words on national TV, and a man who can barely bring himself to talk about God or hunting or fighting Communism in order to curry needed votes, it would seem that the choice is a no-brainer.

"Change" is a fine anthem to chant if we don't believe in what we have aready. But some of us do believe... and we can't afford any change just right now.


16:18 - I've never seen the air so clear

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This morning and yesterday followed the weekend's unseasonable storm, which dumped a huge amount of rain on the Bay Area and then skittered off, leaving the roads to slowly absorb the puddles out from under the piles of startled leaves heaped in the gutters. There are still lingering clouds jetting across the still-chilly sky, as though trying to catch up. It feels like winter. And as is so often the case on days like these, the views across the Valley are spectacular. You can see up to the San Bruno Hills and Mt. Tamalpais from any unobstructed perch in the Santa Cruz Mountains, where I bike on weekends; and not just that, but the air is so cracklingly clear and crisp, it looks like someone's just wiped the whole region with Windex and turned up the color saturation to eleven.

I haven't lived in the Bay Area long enough to know how unusual days like this are; yet somehow I keep getting the feeling that this kind of thing is getting more frequent, not less.

Apparently it's not my imagination, either:

2004 has had the lowest ozone smog levels since states began measuring the stuff back in the 1970s. Based on preliminary data from around the country, days exceeding EPA's tough new 8-hour ozone standard declined an average of about 50 percent below 2003, which was itself a record year.[1]

A combination of continuing emission reductions and favorable weather explains the improvements. Weather is the single largest factor affecting year-to-year variations in smog levels. All else equal, cool, wet, and windy years will have less ozone than warm, dry, and calm ones. But weather is only part of the story. During the last 30 years most of the country has had several years that were cooler and/or wetter than 2004, but never have smog levels been anywhere near this low.

. . .

Overall, 8-hour ozone exceedance days declined an average of about 50 percent between 2003 and 2004, meaning that 2004 is not only the best year on record, but the best by a large margin.

In The Day After Tomorrow, it took the cataclysmic destruction of the world's civilized regions by freak murderous weather changes for the stain of wretched humanity to be wiped clean from the skies. It is, after all, an article of faith that everything is getting worse with time; nothing ever gets better.

Doesn't news like this just suck?

(Via .clue.)


15:06 - It's the most wonderful time of the year

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Pomegranate season!



Woo-hoo!


13:41 - But it was all, you know, a mistake
http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/archives/2004_10_01_iraqthemodel_archive.html#10983

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Omar got a passport.

I should’ve written about this some days ago but I had to spend a week in Basra...Anyway, I feel it’s still worth writing about (at least from my point of view):
last week, I crossed the borders for the first time in my life; something may sound less than regular for most of you but for an Iraqi dentist or doctor it was a beautiful dream becoming a reality.
Countless numbers of Iraqi doctors, dentists, officers and professionals carrying Msc or Phd ended up in prison or even lost their lives for trying to get passports (faked ones of course and at a very high cost) to get out of Saddam’s hell.

This time, it wasn’t hard for me at all to get my passport (a real one) and it cost me practically nothing; just two personal photographs and after five days I had my passport in my hand. No Mukhabarat asking why, where to and for how long, no 400 000 Dinars exit tax, no bribes to border guards...etc

. . .

This may sound silly but It’s really something nice to be able to move freely, leave your country whenever you want and come back whenever you like and I can’t describe to you what I felt when I saw the word “EXIT” printed on one of the passport’s pages; I was sad for what we missed and at the same time optimistic and happy for what’s waiting for us in the future. Life seemed normal for me for the 1st time in my life. Soon after the war we could sense freedom immediately but this time we experienced it in a way that we haven’t before. It was an amazing feeling!
Despite all what’s Baghdad is going through, nothing can match the peace I felt when I walked down from the airplane in Baghdad's airport.



13:32 - Money well spent
http://www.whatiam.net/

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Wow. This needs to be read, like, a lot. It cost a guy $104,655.60 to run it on a full page of the Washington Post, and he had better get his money's worth. Internet to the rescue!

WHAT I AM … is an American who understands the difference between “censorship” and “choice”. Evidently, these individuals do not, because when these same “celebrities” receive public ridicule for their offensive actions, the first thing they yell is “Censorship!”. What they seem incapable of understanding is… the right of free speech and dissent is shared equally by those offended… as well as those who offend. I support and will continue to support those films and performers whom I choose to … and refuse to support those I don’t. It is my right as an American … a right I will continue to enthusiastically exercise.

That's only one of several dozen such paragraphs. Do read 'em all.

Via Cartago Delenda Est.


12:59 - Hah!

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Waiting in the left-turn lane onto Bandley just now, I saw in my rear-view mirror a silver Ferrari 360 Modena coming up on me in the lane immediately to my right.

As it passed me, I saw that the license plate said HI DEBT.

Awesome!


12:20 - Not that there's anything wrong with that
http://www.deanesmay.com/posts/1098346007.shtml

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Dean has it right:

If Kerry wins, the American people will have spoken definitively, and for all time so far as I am concerned. They will have, in effect, said, "We will not support pre-emptive wars or large-scale efforts to democratize other nations any longer. We simply haven't got the stomach for what's required."

Because let's face it: by any rational measure, the Iraq war has gone better than any operation of its type and scale has ever gone in history. And yet the piddling cost and the incredible work of our people is now routinely viewed as a disaster. The press is content merely to report the negative, without any rational or historical context, and the American people are (apparently) content to let them get away with it.

And that's okay. If that's what the American people want, it's what they want. If anyone proposes such a task in the future, I'll simply say "Look to the Iraq war. It will end in disaster because the press will only report failure and death and excuse that with phony mealy-mouthed claims of "objectivity," and within a year or two the American people will go wobbly. It's just who we are as a people."

That's what this election will mean. I don't think Kerry's going to win, but I'm bracing myself nonetheless. I'm bracing for condescending, patronizing head-patting from European acquaintances, which is a good deal worse than such acquaintances simply ignoring me out of disgust. I'm bracing for Michael Moore riding the wave of celebratory euphoria and becoming a political celebrity of unprecedented stature for someone from the filmmaking industry, rather like Oliver Stone winning a Senate seat, only with the added bonus of making our philosophical leaders look like the stereotypical fat, loud, obnoxious Americans we're already seen as. I'm bracing for Barbra Streisand, Janeane Garofalo, Arec Bardwin, Martin Sheen, MATT DAMON, Bruce Springsteen, and a thousand other actors and artists being filled with giddy joy and the sense that through the power of movies and songs and petulant theme concerts and appearances on The Daily Show they can change history, even if they haven't given a moment's thought to what they're fighting for except "change". I'm bracing for our troops (who support Bush by a margin of something like five to one) waking up in their barracks two weeks from now to find that the man who flew to visit them on Thanksgiving, who called them by name and saluted them and shook their hands until the tears streamed down their faces, has been kicked out of office by the American people in favor of someone whose promise to bring the troops home by any fixed date speaks more loudly and reassuringly to the enemy than to our soldiers or their families. I'm bracing for history books ten years from now to refer to the brief Bush II years as an unmitigated disaster during which the economy crashed, 9/11 occurred, and America embarked upon an inexplicable series of hideously unpopular foreign wars that were mercifully cut short before anyone could see any long-term results to prove what they were intended to achieve.

It won't be the end of the world, no. But it will suck. Especially if, as I'm also bracing for, the radical Islamists and rogue dictators all over the world (who have to a man endorsed John Kerry in a flurry of anti-Semitic vitriol, Eurocratic condescension, and screenings of Fahrenheit 9/11) take the election's results as a sign that the American people's righteous outrage over 9/11 has flagged and dissipated—and therefore that even an unprecedently audacious and bloody attack on the heart of America's premier city, forever rending its skyline and the Americans' sense of security in their homeland, will provoke only a couple of years of aimless thrashing before the beast lies still and goes back to sleep. If that's the worst America will do in response to an attack like 9/11, then what do the terrorists have to fear if they mount another? They're patient. They've waited six hundred years. They can take their time.

But terrorist attacks don't worry me all that much, really. What worries me is what we show of our character in response to such an attack. Any country can be happy in time of peace, after all—it's only in those periods of trial, like World War II, or Vietnam, that we really see what each country is made of. Now that Jimmy Carter has repudiated the Revolutionary War, blithely throwing away the two-hundred-year legacy of this country's fighting spirit that would never have existed if America had somehow gained its independence peacefully (which would not have happened, Jimmy), we see that shamefacedness over what this country has come to stand for has reached even into the uppermost echelons of our leadership, into the mind of someone who was once our President, and someone who now shares a box seat at the Democratic National Convention with Michael Moore, endorsing a philosophy that says the world would be better off without an America gumming up the works. If a sizable proportion of the populace comes to agree with Carter, or with the people who think like him, then we truly have left behind any traces of the generation that hurled itself into the forests of Belgium or the jungles of the South Pacific, let alone the one that tore itself to pieces on Little Round Top, each man believing deep in his heart that the cause for which he was taking a bayonet in the gut was right, right, right, and to hell with anyone who would tell him otherwise.

This country won't be the last one on the planet to slip over the edge into the postmodern, postnational, gray-and-shabby Nerf-padded peacefulness of apathy already embraced by Europe. The Middle East is younger, for all its history: it has the fire that we once did, and it will eat us alive if we have no heart to fight back—and meanwhile China and the Pacific Rim will come into our inheritance while we stare blankly at the wall of the convalescent hospital of nations. We can kid ourselves that it's better that way, that jacking into a virtual-reality paradise while our corporeal bodies wither is no different from paradise itself; but if we do, it'll be the end of any argument in favor of the experiment that is this country: the idea that freedom, human liberty itself, is a force greater than any other one on Earth, and once truly secured for its posterity by a people, they'll die before they let go of it.

We aren't ready to let go yet, are we?

Tuesday, October 19, 2004
13:36 - Fall hits with a splash

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Whew. Big rainstorm suddenly blew in last night... the kind where huge raindrops pelt against the windshield so hard it sounds like they're about to come through.

It's the first real rain of the year, and it's already got lots of streets flooded and drains clogged; the weather services talk about "unseasonably severe cold fronts" in the advisories that are being circulated all around Northern California, and the temperature has dropped precipitously. Even Capri didn't ask for a walk this morning; he knew it was no good out there.

I'll bet Roland Emmerich could explain what's going on.

Monday, October 18, 2004
13:05 - Debates summarized
http://www.imao.us/archives/002108.html

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The debate aftermath, in Frank J's world:

"Beyond this incident, though," Barnes commented, "I think Bush helped himself by showing a great command of the facts in the debate."

"I believe you are referring especially to this instance," Hume said, and a clip started playing.

"Now, I know how Edwards keeps talking about 'two Americas,'" Bush stated, "but I looked it up. On a world map, there are two Americas - North America and South America - but that's not my fault. According to scientists, it's the result of tectonic shifts breaking apart the Pangaea supercontinent... way before my administration. Kerry and Edwards need to stop lying about me!"

If Bush had actually used this line during the debates, he'd be up 70-30% by now.

Sunday, October 17, 2004
00:52 - Now spell out those signs by lying naked in fields
http://timblair.spleenville.com/archives/007772.php

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This is the must-see of the day: Tim Blair's tour of the latest incarnation of moonbat delusions of relevance.

Be sure to follow every one of the links in his updates, too. It just gets better and better.

Friday, October 15, 2004
16:09 - Until Then
http://www.clermontyellowribbon.com/untilthenflash.htm

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Excellent Flash-based photo-log done as a tribute to our troops in Afghanistan. Definitely a must-watch.

It's the kind of thing that, while you're watching it, makes your brain suddenly flip over to the protesters and naysaying intellectuals, and you involuntarily think, Oh, just shut the HELL up.


15:45 - Say it with me now: D'oh!
http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99996541

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NASA, NASA, NASA... we've got to stop meeting like this.

Sensors to detect deceleration on NASA's Genesis space capsule were installed correctly but had been designed upside down, resulting in the failure to deploy the capsule’s parachutes. The design flaw is the prime suspect for why the capsule, carrying precious solar wind ions, crashed in Utah on 8 September, according to a NASA investigation board.

The sensors were a key element in a domino-like series of events designed to release the parachutes. When the capsule - which blazed into the atmosphere at 11 kilometres per second - decelerated by three times the force of gravity (3 Gs), the sensors should have made contact with a spring.

"It's like smashing on the brakes in your car - you feel yourself being pushed forward," says NASA spokesperson Don Savage.

The contact should have continued as the capsule peaked at a deceleration of about 30 Gs. Then, when the capsule’s deceleration fell back through 3 Gs, the contact would have been broken, starting a timer that signalled the first parachute to release.

"But it never made the initial contact because it was backwards," Savage told New Scientist.

The sensors, which are estimated to be less than an inch (2.5 centimetres) wide, were apparently installed in a circuit board in the wrong orientation - rotated 180° from the correct direction. But the problem stemmed not from the installation but the design, by Lockheed Martin, based in Bethesda, Maryland.

"They still have to find out why that design error was not caught," says Savage. The mission's Mishap Investigation Board will continue to investigate the problem.

This from the same people who brought to you Mars Climate Orbiter: Here Comes the Metric System!

I can't help but sense a common element here. Is it just me, or is Lockheed Martin not doing the best job at keeping its image clean in recent years?

You know, when our QA processes in the software industry are all modeled upon the space program as the paragon at the far end of the price/performance spectrum, we seldom take into account the overriding prevalence of human dopeyness that manifests at crucial times. Like when you learn all about contour integrals but forget how to do long division. Or when you have to stop and squint for a moment before you really have a clear picture of which direction the Earth rotates: Okay, so the sun goes down in the West, so it spins... uh... right-hand rule... carry the one...

...Or is that just me?

UPDATE: Ow. My brain.


14:53 - Let them eat white raisins in gin
http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=13166_Heinz_Kerrys_Raisin_Theory

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You know, if this election were to be decided on the basis of the First Lady candidates (instead of, say, on the basis of the candidates' daughters), it'd be a landslide of volcanic proportions. Like, of the 80-20% variety.

I mean, when it's a choice between "honest, loyal, and sweet" and "rich and totally gibbering insane", what can even a Dan Rather do to spin it?

(...For that matter, what is it that we as a country have against nominating any Presidential candidates with male children? I mean, what gives?)

Thursday, October 14, 2004
13:44 - A JibJab Well Done
http://news.com.com/Passing+the+JibJab+presidential+test/2008-1026_3-5408402.html

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CNet has an interview with the duo behind JibJab, the darlings of the political Flash-cartoon world.
So that's where the animation style used in "This Land" and "DC" comes from?

Yeah. Even though it has chop jaws, I think it looks great.

(The puppetlike jaws are) also a part of the joke, and that's what Evan and the guys do. They understand the limits of the technology and make that part of the joke. It's crude, but the art looks great, and the crudeness is part of the joke.

We could use Flash to make perfectly fluid, Disney-quality animation, but it's just that bandwidth and processor constraints come into play. Even with "DC," we ran into a lot of constraints. It has a lot more animation than "This Land," in terms of movement. And processors can choke if you don't have a newer machine.

These guys really can animate well... and as South Park proved long ago (and continues to re-prove every week), there's a real place for talented animators in the world of paper-cutout and puppet-jaw cartoons. I still believe, for instance, that more emotional subtlety is conveyed by the little one-second twitch of Saddam Hussein's eyes as he unconvincingly says "I love you..." to Satan in bed in South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut than in any full half-hour episode of Father of the Pride.

I think Trey & Matt, the Brothers Chaps, the Space Ghost-derived clip-art shows on Adult Swim, and the JibJab guys are all really blazing a new trail here; while traditional feature animation is floundering without a champion, they're showing us that if the writing is good and the heart is solid, you don't even need your animation to look like it's rotoscoped on ones. You can make your stories "read" just as well with a pair of scissors and some construction paper, and create the "illusion of life" just as satisfyingly.


13:24 - I have misplaced my pants

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Aarrgh... this is going to drive me absolutely bonkers.

I'm positive that in the past 24 hours, somewhere, I saw a mention (by a commenter in a blog, most likely LGF or Tim Blair by the visual style I remember) of one of those "fever swamp" discussions on Democratic Underground or IndyMedia, where people were talking seriously about leaving the country if Bush gets reelected.

I remember that the person pointing out the discussion commented that someone in the thread had noted that he hadn't seen any Republicans anywhere talking about leaving the country if Kerry gets elected. Apparently this mystified the DUer in question.

I'd predictably have some things to say about this, but I can't find the original reference, even using Safari's feature of archiving an organized list of all the sites I visited yesterday. So all I'm left with is a confusing third-generation piece of hearsay. Tarnation!

Anybody happen to see what I'm talking about?
UPDATE: Kenny did:

I think it's quite telling how one of the DUs notes how they don't see discussion on conservative bboards of leaving if Kerry becomes president. That's because we think all other countries suck (apologies to foreign readers... and pity). Where would we flee to that has even a tenth of the grandeur of America? Even with Kerry as president and Democrats controlling both Houses of Congress, they couldn't ruin America if they tried. Americans kick ass, and they will for all my lifetime. If the fire that is the American spirit starts to fade, there is no retreat. This land is the battleground from freedom in the world, and, while there is a drop of the blood in my body, I will reside in the front lines of the fight for civilization as we know it.

Of course, the battle would be easier if we deported all the whiners.

Yeah, I shoulda known it was Frank J.

The point, though, stands: ought we to be deferring our opinion to those Americans who threaten to become huffy expatriates if the election doesn't go their way, or those who believe the Republic will survive even a President we don't agree with?

The former group is fond of becoming indignant over their patriotism being questioned, too. If you ask me, it's beyond question.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004
18:04 - Better add this to the ol' sidebar if Kerry wins
http://www.ericsiegmund.com/fireant/archivesmt/001231.html

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If we're interested in avoiding "nuisances", that is.

Full-size version at the site linked above.


15:32 - His Elf-Friends at Halliburton
http://www.ifilm.com/ifilmdetail/2651184

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Damien says that this is going to be "gigantic", and I do believe he's right. It is, after all, #1 on the comedy listings at iFilm right now: Fellowship 9/11.



Brilliant. No other word for it.


13:43 - It's not even creative
http://billhobbs.com/hobbsonline/004689.html

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I remember when the image featured in the poster Bill Hobbs points to here was circulating through message boards; I believe I have a copy of it dating back to around 2000, probably originating on Fark or Something Awful or someplace similar.

It used to say "Arguing on the Internet is like running in the Special Olympics". Now it's been cleverly updated to "Voting for Bush is like running in the Special Olympics," complete with a Bush face plastered over the kid's. Everything else is unchanged.

I though Democrats were supposed to be the creative ones? ... To say nothing of the sensitive ones...


13:14 - No Votation With Representation
http://timblair.spleenville.com/archives/007735.php

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Um, Guardian readers? Kindly keep your grubby hands off our voters, thank you very much.

We have come up with a unique way for non-Americans to express your views on the policies and candidates in this election to some of the people best placed to decide its outcome. It's not quite a vote, but it's a chance to influence how a very important vote will be cast. Or, at the very least, make a new penpal.

It works like this. By typing your email address into the box on this page you will be sent a name and address of a voter in Clark County, Ohio from the most recent publicly available voters roll. You may not have heard of it, but it's one of the most marginal areas in one of the most marginal states: at the last election, just 167 votes separated Democrats from Republicans. It's a place where a change of mind among just a few voters could make a real difference.

Writing to a Clark County voter is a chance to explain how US policies effect you personally, and the rest of the world more generally, and who you hope they will send to the White House. It may even persuade someone to use their vote at all.

Look, I know you guys are feeling left out. I know you're mad that you're not being allowed to take part in what you rightly see as a very important election.

But we've fought wars over stuff like this before.


12:57 - Let me put it this way

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I guess I'm a three-issue voter, because this election, I want the outcome to do the following three things:

1. Empower our military psychologically by making them feel that a mandate from the American people is firmly behind them

2. Spite Michael Moore, all his Hollywood toadies and college-age sycophants, and France

3. Make the terrorists crap themselves on November 3, not dance around whooping and firing into the air in celebration

I have a hard time seeing how electing John Kerry would make any of these things happen, or how electing Bush would do anything but. Yet very little else matters to me right about now.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004
13:32 - Nothing's more infuriating than an enigmatic smile
http://cartagodelenda.blogspot.com/2004/10/bush-got-game.html

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Matteo has posted a followup to his earlier "What's Bush's Game" post, mentioning my response and Bill Whittle's "Deterrence" and tying them all together as they seemed to converge through serendipity.

At issue is the whiplash we all got from the contrast between the Bush of the first debate and the Bush of the second one: from bewildered, tired, and out of his league right to the dynamic, arm-waving, joke-popping ringleader from Thursday. Maybe he just stayed at a Holiday Inn Express on Wednesday night or something. Or it could be the "poker metaphor" we've seen a number of times, coming back into play:

In 1994, during the Texas gubernatorial campaign, it is my understanding that Bush simply stuck to his guns, being his polite and friendly self, not responding to negative attacks from the incumbent, Ann Richards. Out of frustration that she wasn’t having an impact on Bush or his campaign, Richards finally made a public statement in some venue or other that “George Bush is an idiot!” This immediately swung the election in Bush’s favor and he never looked back. Ah, that was a kindler and gentler era!

. . .

There will be ironies if the Democratic Party and left manage to destroy themselves during this election. They could have looked at the overall strategic situation and said “You know, we lost the roll of the dice on this one. Bush was President during 9/11, we’re at war, and it is more important to support the President than to win an election. That’s the way the cookie crumbles. Americans get tired of having one party in the White House after awhile, and we’ll get back in there. For now, let’s run a decent campaign, like Dole did in 1996, and be as helpful as we can to assure victory in this war.” If they’d done this, they’d probably have a great shot in ’08. If there were agreement on the importance of victory, ’08 would come down to a choice of personality and domestic policies. But, alas, the Democrats prefer a failing (I hope!) kamikaze attack.

I'd really be impressed if this were all demonstrably part of a plan. Somehow I have to imagine that a lot of it is dumb luck and faith (which, hey, are important in poker too); but if the real Karl Rove strategy here is to let Dubya stand there silently grinning like the Master Chief and wait for all the irritating but ultimately harmless little Flood globule-guys to hurl themselves ineffectually against him until they explode with fury yet do nothing but get him all sticky (while not wasting any of his ammo), then I'll have to defer to a better campaign planner than I could ever be.

Once this is all over, it'll be one of those periods in history that I would just love to be able to revisit in a time machine and see how it would have turned out if things had been run just a bit differently. Like, for instance, if they were to run this attack ad...

Monday, October 11, 2004
03:43 - The third debate will be "open-mike" style
http://www.thewavemag.com/pagegen.php?pagename=article&articleid=25026

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Seanbaby, writing in The Wave, has evaluated Bush and Kerry and rendered a judgment based on which one's the better comedian.

Bush ranks pretty close to zero out of ten by his estimation... but he comes off way better than Kerry does. And rightly so, judging by the Kerry/Letterman Top 10 list that he alludes to. Yikes, those are some groaners. Quite leaving aside the "Halliburton BAD!" and "Ashcroft destroy Constitution!" memes, which are rather disturbing in themselves, knowing that a potential future President is spouting them; it's also quite eye-opening in that this is how Kerry aims to win Americans' hearts through comedy.

I'd love to have seen Seanbaby cover this ongoing train-wreck of a joke in this article... not to mention Thursday's "Need some wood?" quip. I think they'd have skewed the numbers a fair bit further.


23:33 - You will be assimilated
http://campjinx.pictureshowfilms.com/bls/leonard/im_fight.html

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Ahh, the dangers of the all-Mac household.



But all ends in happiness and hugs. As you knew it would.


23:01 - JibJab's got company
http://www.flowgo.com/funpages/view.cfm/5809

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Woo-hoo! This one's not quite as lavishly produced as the JibJab shorts, but it's still a laugh riot, I think. Go see.


19:36 - Can't have that
http://money.cnn.com/2004/10/11/news/newsmakers/sinclair_kerry/index.htm?cnn=yes

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Just remember: free speech is what people have who speak out against Bush. People who speak out against Kerry, well, they must be silenced.

Sinclair Broadcast Group, owner of the largest chain of television stations in the nation, plans to air a documentary that accuses Sen. John Kerry of betraying American prisoners during the Vietnam War, a newspaper reported Monday.

The reported plan prompted the Democratic National Committee to file a complaint against Sinclair with the Federal Election Commission.

Sinclair has ordered all 62 of its stations to air "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal" without commercials in prime-time next week, the Washington Post reported, just two weeks before the Nov. 2 election.

. . .

"We have received thousands of e-mails, people outraged by the very idea a company like Sinclair would direct stations to air a partisan film," said Wes Boyd, founder of political watchdog MoveOn.org.

"If they do air a partisan film, we'll challenge the FCC and the licenses of the local stations that broadcast the film because local stations have a responsibility to the community to air real news, not partisan messages," said Boyd.

Yeah, Wes. You just keep standing on your principles, there.

Lance says:

Did the Democrats complain about Farenheit 9/11? or about the timing of
its DVD release (and associated advertising)?
Did the Democrats complain about Dan Rather's use of "60 Minutes" to
spread forged propaganda?
Did the Democrats complain about widespread bias shown by tthe vast
majority of media outlets?

But now, when a single media chain announces plans to broadcast a movie
that questions them, they cry "foul".

The DNC lost its right to complain about media bias a long time ago. And
they certainly must have contempt for the average voter if they feel that
the audience makes up its mind based on movies... on the other hand, given
their behavior, I'd say that the DNC -does- have just such a contempt, and
-does- use movies and media manipulation to sway those stupid,
knuckle-dragging vote-puppets.

I've said it before: if, deep down, you harbor the suspicion that "Middle America" is composed entirely of stupid people whose vote should be feared rather than welcomed, then you have no respect for—or belief in—democracy. Democracy isn't just some easy-cheese default state where everybody agrees with one another in happy harmony; it's a very precarious condition of human governance that depends on the ability of people with wildly differing values and backgrounds to respect each other's voices to carry exactly the same weight, irrespective of how much each party feels the other is "entitled" to express it. If you don't believe in that principle, then you're an elitist who probably rolls your eyes at the very concept of "democracy" being peddled to other countries, and probably harbor thoughts like Well, maybe democracy doesn't really suit Those People or Hey, if a dictator provides free education and health care, then I like that dictator.

In which case, go right ahead and vote: I won't stand in your way. Heaven forbid winning should outweigh my desire to set a dogged example in these trying times.

Just get outta my way when it's my turn to vote. And no whining about "partisan films". It's a little late for that.


11:52 - Um...
http://mdn.mainichi.co.jp/waiwai/0201/020106moms.html

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Would it be too terribly unfair of me to say that Japan has problems?

An old article, but...

UPDATE: Then again, I often find that I have no idea what kinds of things are controversial in other countries. Sunday shopping? What century is this?


11:41 - It is accomplished

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Finally! After all this time, I think I can officially declare my master suite "completed".



At least the sitting-room half of it, anyway. The shelves are now in place on either side of the arch doorway, and there's a corn stalk plant in the corner where it'll hopefully be able to benefit from indirect light all day long, at least during the winter when I can keep my curtains open. And the armoire is done; all my shirts are hung up now, Mom. No more draping them all over the back of the couch. Which means the couch is now useful as, well, a couch. What with the finished bookshelves and the new peace I've made with that table as a TV stand (all the A/V components will fit just fine up the left-side stack), I can start entertaining in here for real.

Yeah, this is pretty silly as a subject for discussion. But this project has taken a while, and I'm very satisfied indeed.

Sunday, October 10, 2004
22:26 - Spammers for Bush

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Okay, so it's not just anti-Bush moonbats sending out exhortations via spam. I just got one from these guys too.

Granted, this one is funny... and well-laid-out, and includes the company's full name and address and everything. Quite above-board, except it is spam.

So it still wins!

Saturday, October 9, 2004
06:16 - They're Back

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Everybody rise! JibJab has released the sequel to "This Land": "Good To Be In D.C.". Just as well animated, just as well voiced and scored, and just as funny. They're selling them both on DVD, and have them available for $3 downloads.

These guys are goood.

Friday, October 8, 2004
00:16 - I can honestly say that was the best episode of "Impy & Chimpy" I've ever seen
http://www.thespoonsexperience.com/archives/003041.php#003041

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Good debate. Goooood debate. I do believe that InstaPundit reader is right: Bush does better when he can talk directly to his audience, and stomp around on the stage waving his arms, instead of having to stare out into the darkness at a camera lens.

Plus he had the benefit of the Duelfer Report, armed with which nobody could be expected to lose. I was gratified to see that Bush pounded on it after all, early on in the debate, in the Iraq segment (which he carried most convincingly, even though he had to defend admitting Iraq had no WMDs). He stopped short of explaining to everybody that France and Germany and Russia refused to join us because they were on the take from Saddam, because that would have been tantamount to severing diplomatic ties; but everything else, he did cover: Saddam was gaming the United Nations toward getting the sanctions lifted, upon which he'd be free to resume his WMD programs! Kerry didn't have much to fall back on but "Well, uh, we didn't have enough troops! So I'm going to call for more troops! And then pull them out!" and so on. Oh, and "I don't waffle. What could have ever given you that idea?"

I didn't see the first debate, but from all accounts this was a completely different ballgame. Bush didn't win on all counts (he screwed up a few things, like prescription drugs from Canada and Supreme Court justice appointments), but Kerry had nothing but tired economic statistics that can be turned on their heads by explaining them more fully, and threadbare appeals to "allies" that are getting more laughable by the day. Bush didn't let up on it, but Kerry kept yammering on like he hadn't heard a word.

I wish Bush had remembered about Australia, though, especially in that outburst where he interrupted the moderator. The Aussies ought to be first out the gate in some of these lists.

This is getting fun, though. "Need some wood?" Heee. Bush had it to spare.


18:08 - Solving the ID10T problem
http://www.whatithinkiknow.com/

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Damien has offered an excellent example of how to respond to someone who's convinced himself that anyone who disagrees with him is either evil or stupid.

At some point in life, you will come to respect others' points of view. Perhaps you will be convinced through personal experience, or through argument, or through simply coming to love someone with different viewpoints, in whom you are interested enough to listen and understand.

You're not an idiot, and neither am I. Yet we disagree, and this fact alone should compel you to give a little more thought and respect to the "other side". You gain nothing as a person by cocooning yourself in comfortable and unchallenged views - it is through interaction, understanding, and substantive argument that one becomes more enlightened. And, of course, experience.

Granted, if I were a high school student receiving a message like this, it would simply make me angry—I'd dismiss it as so much sanctimonious, word-twisting hoo-haw, because I'd still know I was right. One person disagreeing with me and my righteous beliefs? Pshaw.

But the seed would have been planted; so the next time something like this happened...

UPDATE: Somehow I doubt it would work on these people, though. They've grabbed up a degraded facsimile of the truth and run so far downfield that it's not worth even going after them.


13:05 - I can dream, can't I?
http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=13044_Kerry-_Our_Moral_Leadership_is_N

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Kerry on Darfur:

WASHINGTON - Democrat presidential candidate John Kerry says he would not send U.S. forces to stop the genocide in Sudan if they continued to be needed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I’d do everything possible,” he said in a taped interview broadcast Thursday night on Black Entertainment Television, citing logistical support and money to help the African Union intervene in the Sudanese crisis.

Asked whether he’d send troops, Kerry said the United States would “have to be in a position in Iraq and Afghanistan” to allow that to happen. He said his options as president would be limited because President Bush has overextended U.S. forces.

“Our flexibility is less than it was,” he said. “Our moral leadership is not what it ought to be.”

You know what I'd love to see?

Once—just once—for any reporter interviewing Kerry to, at this point, say:

"Yes or no, please, sir."

Wouldn't that just be devastating?

Such a simple question, such a simple answer they're looking for: Assuming we had them available, would you send troops to Sudan? Yes or no? Just trying to find out whether he thinks it's something we should do or not. But no, the answer is a pointless ramble about Iraq and Afghanistan and Bush and moral leadership.

Yes or no, please, sir. Imagine what a sound bite that would make.

I guess we know what four years of Kerry press conferences will look like.


12:05 - Spammers For Kerry

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Now that's a constituency Kerry doesn't need. Some enterprising soul has taken to emitting an anti-Bush tract via spam. I've received about nine copies of it so far:

From: GEORGE W. BUSH <pndxqzfk@yz.com>
Subject: I approve this message
Date: October 8, 2004 6:29:05 AM PDT
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

PLEASE CONSIDER MY EXPERIENCE WHEN VOTING IN 2004


EXPERIENCE AND EDUCATION

Law Enforcement:
I was arrested in Kennebunkport, Maine, in 1976 for driving under
the influence of alcohol. I pleaded guilty, paid a fine, and had
my driver's license suspended for 30 days. My Texas driving
record has been "lost" and is not available.

Military:
I joined the Texas Air National Guard and went AWOL. I refused
to take a drug test or answer any questions about my drug use.
By joining the Texas Air National Guard, I was able to avoid
combat duty in Vietnam.

College:
I graduated from Yale University with a low C average. I was
a cheerleader.

. . .

...Blah, blah, blah.

It's all canards and innuendoes (with whatever fragments of truth mixed in as could be found), and nothing we haven't heard before. But it's being spewed scattershot across the Internet now, using the same low-budget means of delivery that spam has always benefited from.

I suppose it shouldn't surprise me, given what other tactics are being increasingly employed of late by those convinced that another four years of Bush will cause the planet to explode, or whatever. But I have to wonder: will the number of people potentially swayed by this message be greater than the number of people utterly pissed-off at being told what to think politically by a piece of spam nestled in between the "The original HGH Longevity from Germany" and "Get Ciälis Välium Ambinën 62% Off Retäil" missives?

Thursday, October 7, 2004
18:26 - They Know Stuff
http://abcnews.go.com/wire/US/ap20041007_295.html

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Behold the artistic glories of our intellectual betters:

It didn't take a nuclear physicist to realize changes were needed after a $40,000 ceramic mural was unveiled outside the city's new library and everyone could see the misspelled names of Einstein, Shakespeare, Vincent Van Gogh, Michelangelo and seven other historical figures.

"Our library director is very frustrated that she has this lovely new library and it has all these misspellings in front," said city councilwoman Lorraine Dietrich, one of three council members who voted Monday to authorize paying another $6,000, plus expenses, to fly the artist up from Miami to fix the errors.

Sweet deal, huh? Maybe it was all part of the plan. Maybe this artiste is a mad genius.

Reached at her Miami studio Wednesday by The Associated Press, Maria Alquilar said she was willing to fix the brightly colored 16-foot-wide circular work, but offered no apologizes for the 11 misspellings among the 175 names.

"The importance of this work is that it is supposed to unite people," Alquilar said. "They are denigrating my work and the purpose of this work."

...Okay, perhaps not. She's just a Moore-pattern freak.

The mistakes wouldn't even register with a true artisan, Alquilar said.

"The people that are into humanities, and are into Blake's concept of enlightenment, they are not looking at the words," she said. "In their mind the words register correctly."
True artists aren't bound by such inane concepts as spelling, y'see. This work, It is actually a commentary on our shallow society with its fixation on being "correct" or "accurate" or "true". A pox on the pedants who would question such a work of genius as this!

What utter, astonishing gall. That'd better be some frickin' mural, if they're still willing to give this Being of Ephemeral Light six extra grand to fix these mistakes.

Via Brian D. And apologies to Tim Blair for lifting his subject line; it's a meme that should be free, Tim! Fie on your corporate fat-cat "copyright" and "property"!

UPDATE: How did I know her "murals" would look like this? Sigh.

You've got to catch these people in the act or they'll never learn.

Thanks to Corsair, who has more on this moron.

UPDATE: Kimberly Swygert appears to have the definitive roundup of this matter, including the fact that this incoherent master of ugly art with an overinflated sense of ego is a former schoolteacher. I'm not sure which word surprises me less: schoolteacher, or former...


17:11 - Let me hammer him today
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6168202/#041007

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So now the Duelfer Report is out, which despite headlines by mainstream media outlets fixated on perpetuating the idea that Bush somehow "lied" about WMDs, now firmly establishes a number of very uncomfortable conclusions for those who have placed all their chips on the BUSH LIED!!! side of the table.

Not only were Saddam's WMD programs evidently quite well poised for a resumption at any time, that resumption was confidently expected—by Saddam—to occur hot on the heels of the sanctions being dropped by the UN, whose French and Russian and German delegates he had been sweetly bribing for years toward the end of keeping the Americans off his back.

Glenn Reynolds has been keeping this front and center:

SADDAM HUSSEIN believed he could avoid the Iraq war with a bribery strategy targeting Jacques Chirac, the President of France, according to devastating documents released last night.

Memos from Iraqi intelligence officials, recovered by American and British inspectors, show the dictator was told as early as May 2002 that France - having been granted oil contracts - would veto any American plans for war. . . .

Saddam was convinced that the UN sanctions - which stopped him acquiring weapons - were on the brink of collapse and he bankrolled several foreign activists who were campaigning for their abolition. He personally approved every one.

To keep America at bay, he focusing on Russia, France and China - three of the five UN Security Council members with the power to veto war. Politicians, journalists and diplomats were all given lavish gifts and oil-for-food vouchers.

Tariq Aziz, the former Iraqi deputy prime minister, told the ISG that the "primary motive for French co-operation" was to secure lucrative oil deals when UN sanctions were lifted. Total, the French oil giant, had been promised exploration rights.

And what did Saddam bribe the French and Russian diplomats with? Why, that ten billion dollars that went missing from the Oil-For-Food scheme, that was supposed to pay for Iraqis' food and medicine.

In exchange for which the French and Russians and Germans pledged Saddam that they'd do everything in their power to prevent the Americans from taking him out.

Sound to you like someone that would have jumped on board with us if only we'd spent a little more time haggling at the UN, like Kerry says he would have done?

Sound to you like someone we would want to get involved in the Iraq reconstruction, or who would agree to do so even if we did, as Kerry plans to ask them to?

Sound to you like anyone whose opinions on this matter we should be taking any more seriously than we did Saddam's?

This is far uglier than any simple "smoking gun". This is exactly what Steven Den Beste suggested, last January, sick at heart, might in our darkest dreams be at the core of the controversy:

Suppose we win, which is absolutely certain.

And suppose, once we've done so, and have occupied Iraq and have full (really full, not UN full) access to Iraq's records and can truly find what they have, that we find that everything we've been saying about their WMDs is really true; that they have chem and bio weapons and banned delivery systems, and are near to developing nukes, which I also think is extremely likely.

One more and the most important: suppose that the records also show that during the 1990's companies in France or Germany (or both) actively and deliberately broke the sanctions and sold equipment and supplies to Iraq which helped it to create these things, and that the governments of Germany and France knew and approved of this and actively helped. That's the biggest and most speculative suppose.

. . .

If they (Chirac and Schröder) know that they face the scenario I described above after we invade, that would definitely explain their behavior, because preventing Anglo-American occupation of Iraq is the only conceivable way they could prevent it. If this is the case, then since no other way exists to avoid this fate and since the consequences of it are dreadful, it would make sense to continue the lost cause of trying to prevent our attack.

So the more they persist even as it becomes ever more hopeless, the more I find myself worrying that they are trying to cover up something really, really big.

Only the French and Russians weren't even doing business with Saddam, which would have been bad enough. They were taking bribes from Saddam, bribes funded by humanitarian aid money paid for by Iraqi oil and stolen by Saddam and ignored by UN officials, and accepting promises that in the future they'd be right at the top of Saddam's buddy list, in the on-deck circle to drill a bunch of new wells and secure their own private oil stash with which to become a new European superpower independent of American influence.

If that isn't the absolute lowest of lows, I don't know what could top it. I mean, at least Hitler was honest about what he was doing. At least we knew Saddam was a dictator of a Stalinist police state. But these guys? They must have known what these actions were doing to innocent Iraqis, and where they would fit on the totem pole of morality if ever called to account; but apparently, through soothing diplo-speak and polysyllabic euphemisms, they managed to convince themselves that what they were doing was excusable, even justifiable. These guys are the Zyklon-B manufacturers, the guys who built the ovens, the contractors laying the pipe. They knew what they were doing, they could have opted out, but... all in a day's work, right? A buck's a buck.

What a perfect picture of the post-modern, post-human "world beyond morality". Nothing is right or wrong anymore; it's all just a mathematical equation, a cynical calculation which either comes out positive or negative. What a great illustration of the Earth we stand to inherit once we're all dispassionate, scientific apostles to reason. It'll kill a hundred thousand people? Well, yeah, but it'll also make us billions of euros. Can't make an omelette without breaking oeufs.

Remember when we blamed huge corporations for thinking like this?

I guess that's what happens when you run your country like a corporation, with a board of directors and several thousand employees and a few million shareholders. Complete with a corporate logo and a brand identity. And market penetration statistics.

So this really isn't any worse than what we most darkly suspected, but it's still infuriating to see it right there in black and white—and yet to see some people still stubbornly taking the side of these slughearted villains, pledging to the kid with his hand stuck in the cookie jar that we'll reward him with all the cookies he can eat. We know they'll doggedly fight to the bitter end, because nothing's worth changing one's mind for—not even new facts coming to light. But by rights, John Kerry's entire case for the Presidency, centered now around Iraq's missing WMDs and the holy blessing of France and Russia and the UN, now revealed as Saddam's boot-licking, wholly-owned accomplices, ought to wither and die overnight.

But it won't. Not unless Bush is willing to hammer on this with every breath in his body from now until Election Day.

As Dean Esmay says, in his own comments:

If Bush cannot make the point, then he deserves to lose.

Yup. If he's too squeamish to point the finger of moral righteousness squarely in the faces of those who need to be on its receiving end, then he's apparently not bothered by being mistaken for just another accomplice. He did take out Saddam, yes... he did put his money where his mouth was, and his gun is now loaded again. But he'd better not get cold feet now that he has perfect license to pull the trigger.

Wednesday, October 6, 2004
15:13 - Whittle's election essay
http://www.ejectejecteject.com/archives/000107.html

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Looks like Bill was up late writing this; seems it was worth it:

We don’t want [9/11] to happen again.

We want to deter it from happening again.

And all of this rage and fury and spitting and tearing up of signs, all of these insults and spinmeisters and forgeries and all the rest, seem to come down to the fact that about half the country thinks you deter this sort of thing by being nice, while the other half thinks you deter this by being mean.

Exactly. See the MoveOn.org post below about how they want to spin the debate: Cheney was mean, so he sucks. Edwards was warm and charming and nice, so he rules.

Maybe if we were fighting bunny-rabbits or fields of sunflowers or an invasion of Darth Vaders that feed on wrath and hatred and use it to grow ever stronger.

But not if we're fighting people who laugh at our "tolerance" and call us weak and subhuman for it. It's not by being nicer that they'll change their minds and become nice in return. These aren't Pokémon villains; they're the reincarnations of the Nazis and the imperial Japanese, and there's only one way to deal with such people.

Once upon a time we understood that.

UPDATE: Oh, and he also covers what I and Matteo had been writing about: what is Bush's game plan? Why hasn't he told us about it? Why are we the ones tasked with keeping his September 20, 2001 speech's fire burning?

UPDATE: It's rather spooky how closely today's rather excellent Bush speech echoes Bill's essay in places.

If Americans can understand how the MAD doctrine kept the world from getting nuked, they can grasp how it's more important and effective to deter people who come from a completely different universe than to please people who are already from ours.


15:03 - Mac OS Xbox
http://www.cc.gatech.edu/~ranma1/mac_install.html

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Wow. OS X on an Xbox.

Via Steven, who says, "Why? Why? Why would anyone DO this?"

Beats me, but I'll bet Edmund Hillary could tell you...

UPDATE: Bah! I knew I was putting my foot into it, there. It was George Mallory who said the bit about climbing a mountain because it was there. Thanks to Paul for setting me straight.


13:28 - That's some ironclad testimony right there

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Here's MoveOn.org's mass mailing in response to the Cheney-Edwards debate, which most people seem to be describing as a Cheney win:

Dear MoveOn member,

We're on a roll. In last night's vice presidential debate, Dick Cheney was angry, misleading and petulant; Edwards took him on with warmth, clarity and the facts. CBS News reported this morning that Edwards "continued the Democratic ticket's winning streak," beating Cheney by 13 percentage points in a post-debate poll of uncommitted voters.[1]

Again and again, Cheney tried to mislead the public about the war in Iraq and our economic problems here at home. He even claimed that he’d never met Edwards before when he had, in public, twice. But John Edwards wouldn't let him get away with it: when Cheney tried once again to link al Qaeda and 9/11, Edwards said, "Mr. Vice President, you are still not being straight with the American people," and explained that there was absolutely no connection. We've compiled a bunch more of these misleads -- and the facts -- below. And we captured that strong rebuttal on tape: you can check it out at www.moveonpac.org.

The problem is that Cheney lies with utter conviction, so for some of the folks who are just tuning in to the presidential contest, it's difficult to tell who was fabricating and who was telling the truth. But if we all just take one of Cheney's false statements listed below and write to our local paper about it, we can debunk Cheney's distortions and demonstrate Edwards' commitment to the truth.

Never mind all the rebuttals to those "explanations", like about Iraq/al Qaeda, that followed from Cheney. Those facts don't count. But, hey, it's not like MoveOn.org is interested in being rigorous with its methods here. Who do we think they are, FactCheck.org?

Man, I ache to see what these people mail out on November 3rd.

UPDATE: By the way, here's some more important information about Halliburton you should know.

Tuesday, October 5, 2004
00:58 - Voting with one's guts
http://www.deanesmay.com/posts/1097037348.shtml

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You know, I keep telling myself that I have better reasons to vote for George W. Bush than to prevent these people's tactics from paying off.

But, well, some days it's the only one that matters.

UPDATE: See, because there's a word for people who do this sort of thing: terrorists.

Vote Bush, or the terrorists win.


19:36 - Rope-A-Century
http://cartagodelenda.blogspot.com/2004/10/what-is-bushs-game.html

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Matteo at Cartago Delenda Est is another Silicon Valley blogger with a beleaguered-conservative bent (and a very attractive site to boot); a couple of days ago he posted some interesting thoughts about what Bush may be up to in this election season, and indeed throughout his term:

Think about it. Bush does not run a 24/7 media war machine or “permanent campaign” like Clinton did (and the Dems and MSM still do). A victory for him via such methods is not a victory at all, for himself, or the country. During his presidency he has held back. The result? It’s staring us all in the face right now. Look at the Blogosphere. Look at the renaissance of discussion, analysis, and just plain thinking that is taking place. This is politics at the “grass roots”. This is engagement, this is involvement, this is a revolution!

I was just thinking about this the other day, actually. What has he held, twelve press conferences since 2000? Part of what's so befuddling about this whole political football game that's been raging since we saw the smoking towers on TV and wondered just what the anchorpeople meant when they said this changes everything is that the level of vitriol raised against the Bush administration has gone so stunningly unchecked. How many baseless accusations against him has Bush seen fit to go on TV to refute? Why has he not given any evening addresses to defend his National Guard service? Why hasn't he explained the role of Halliburton in Iraq, giving historical context and industry statistics describing why they have the contracts they do, and just how tenuously their fortunes are connected with Cheney's? Why, for Pete's sake, hasn't he thought it necessary to explain the overall long-term strategy of the War on Terror to the American people? And how much grief and approval points could he have saved himself if only he had? If this were the Clinton era, or even the Reagan era, there'd be an explicit Administration line on every controversy of the day. There'd be no chance for anyone to write up a sign calling the president Hitler, much less convene a 150,000-strong protest in San Francisco, because he'd have taken the stage on day three to dispense a carefully worded rationale for any action that anyone might find objectionable.

That hasn't happened this Presidential term. Like, at all. And this is supposed to be a fascist dictatorship, remember, where we're all told what to think on a daily basis.

So there's next to no defense coming out of the White House for any of the actions that anyone has attacked it for, from not signing Kyoto to being in bed with the Saudis to supposedly cutting veterans' benefits to the entire strategy of the Global War on Terror, including Iraq and future political and/or military steps involved therewith. The Administration has just gone about its business, going through all the proper legislative and procedural channels and all, but leaving the American populace curiously out of the loop. And who's been left to pick up the slack here? Well, who did I just link to several times? Bloggers. Random people on the Internet with a penchant for being thoughtful and long-winded. Average Joes have taken up the task of defending the President's agenda, because he doesn't seem to have any interest in doing so himself. They've been doing the research, spending the money, and putting in the tireless effort to propound rationales and defenses for Bush that the President doesn't seem to want to issue himself—and that are, for all the analysis behind them, mostly guesses. Why is that the new standard for discourse over our nation's committed direction? Is it a good thing or a bad thing? I mean, what the hell kind of President is it who says not a single word in response when a local headquarters of his re-election campaign is sprayed with bullets?

You'd think that with the tone of the anti-Bush slogans rising in a seemingly endless crescendo, unchecked, unchalleged, there would eventually come a time when the charges the Left raises would have to be answered. But Bush isn't doing so, not even in the debates. He's backing off of the tough questions, not going for the easy kill. It's like he doesn't even care about defending his actions. We don't even know why. It could be because he doesn't believe in his own agenda himself. It could be because he sees the criticism to be a completely meaningless distraction. Or it could be because of some ingenious plan to empower individual Americans by inducting them into the political process on a completely populist level, leaving himself completely open to attack because he knows that some people will see the method in what he's doing and take it upon themselves to be his banner-bearers, voluntarily and on their own recognizance, painstakingly building up their own credibility as they go.

This last possibility seems freakishly remote. But there was once a time when we believed our government was easily capable of such intricate and century-long-lasting social engineering projects, wasn't there? Remember the CIA of the 60s? The Pinkertons? NASA? The thick-rimmed-glasses-wearing spooks to whom the guy from A Beautiful Mind reported? That's not completely gone today, is it? We know how dunderheaded the FBI has become... or is that just what they want us to think?

I don't even know what the most likely explanation for this phenomenon is; all I know is that it's extremely strange, and a little bit unnerving. It certainly explains why people like Michael Moore exist and are so popular, and yet have such an amazing lack of an irony gland as to claim their dissenting opinions are being crushed by an overbearing government enforcing a party line. The reality is so unbelievably far in the opposite direction, with near-silence coming from the White House even when it's under the fiercest attack, that it's easy to imagine that something sinister must be going on. What else can explain it?

Occam's Razor would tend to tell me that this silence isn't complete disinterest nor an intricately orchestrated conspiracy; I think it's mostly just extreme discipline and focus on the job at hand, and a refusal to involve the White House in the quagmire of the scurrilous charges raised against it, because to answer them would be to legitimize them. Even that possibility seems a bit far-fetched, though. Certainly it seems as though ignoring the Moores of the world hasn't made them go away, and so the strategy may have backfired.

I hope it's not too late. It's possible for the White House to have restored too much dignity, I suppose.

By the way, Matteo has a couple of other posts—here and here—that discuss the ins and outs of running a GOP voter-registration table in Silicon Valley. Maybe showing restraint in responding to insults is a systemic feature after all...

Monday, October 4, 2004
18:02 - "He's killed people"
http://www.thnt.com/thnt/story/0,21282,1068611,00.html

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Wow. Via Corsair comes this charming little story of crushed dissent. South Brunswick, NJ? I was just there this weekend:

Pillai-Diaz, 33, a volunteer with the Bush campaign and an English teacher, has had a publicity picture of the First Couple hanging in her classroom since the start of the school year, she said.

The photo became an issue last week.

Parents e-mailed an assistant principal accusing Pillai-Diaz of suppressing free speech because the teacher refused to talk to pupils about why the color photo hung in the room.

"Students said, 'You like George Bush? He's killed people,' " Pillai-Diaz said. "As a rule I don't talk about my politics in the classroom."

Which you have to say these days if you're a teacher. If you don't want to lose your job, you'd better be prepared to explain yourself if you put a picture of the President up in your classroom. Or else cower and plead that it's not meant as a political statement.

This is about as close as it gets these days to the old stereotypical gym coach/civics teacher who would make you memorize the preamble to the Constitution or do thirty push-ups. I'm not convinced that this is an improvement.

Meanwhile, Michael Moore gets to post on his website about his gleeful plans for Fahrenheit 9/11 DVDs to be pirated and sent to American soldiers in Iraq so that they'll become demoralized and die and thus come home sooner... and nobody bats an eye. Indeed, they give him gold statues for it. For what in an earlier age might have been called something as gauche as giving aid and comfort to the enemy in time of war.

Pillai-Diaz told the assistant principal to take the picture down himself. Then she sought Principal Jim Warfel, who gave her an upbraiding.

"He said, 'You've caused more disruption, hatred and anger than anyone I've ever known,' " she said.

The teacher said the principal told her to "get out," so she left and headed to the South Brunswick Police Department.

That's hatred for ya. Putting up a picture of the President in your classroom. That's what gets a teacher fired these days.

I wonder what the school would say about posters of Mao or Che?

No, I don't either.

UPDATE: God... this makes it even worse:

The White House-issued photo of the Bushes was pinned to a bulletin board that held portraits of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and a copy of the Constitution.

"I wouldn't touch politics in my classroom with a 10-foot pole, but [the principal] felt I was making a political statement," said Shiba Pillai-Diaz, 33, a seventh- and eighth-grade English teacher at Crossroads South Elementary School in Monmouth Junction.

"It was meant to be a picture of the current president, nothing partisan about it," said Pillai-Diaz, a Republican mother of one who volunteered at the party's convention in Madison Square Garden.

The principal et al. are trying to get her to either take down the photo, or add a photo of John Kerry. They want to shift the point of the photo from the fact that Bush is the sitting President, to the controversy of the coming election.

She's considering this President to be a part of U.S. history, just like every other President. The people asking her to take the photo down, however, seem to be trying to erase him from history. To turn his term into a memory, and to define him only in terms of being the guy running against Kerry. To transform him into something temporary and fleeting, like Prohibition.

To say nothing of that making it into a Bush/Kerry thing would force her to have the in-class debate, which she clearly doesn't want to do. I think she's simply shocked that putting up a picture of the President in a public school classroom these days is something you have to justify, or explain, or discuss... or defend.

Thanks to Kenny B. for the link.


13:33 - "The Navy didn't send Republicans to Vietnam; they sent men."
http://www.deanesmay.com/posts/1096905911.shtml

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Dean Esmay managed to get a lengthy phone interview with Van Odell, a gunner's mate from John Kerry's unit and member of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. He asked questions that commenters had suggested, and really drove to the heart of the matter in a lot of key areas.

DW: If President Bush were to publicly call for your group to pull its ads and to stop campaigning against Senator Kerry, would you stop?

VO: No. No. No. We're not part of the Republican party, we're not trying to elect Bush, we're Democrats and independents and Republicans across the board. The Navy didn't send Republicans to Vietnam, they sent men.

All 60 of our group who served with Kerry in Vietnam, and the others who served there and have joined us, we want the American people to hear our story. Personally, I also want this story to be known to historians....

We're not tied to any campaign. We're a group of private citizens who've formed a 527. We're going to tell our truth to the American people up until November 2nd. We don't want his lies recorded as truth in the history books.

This is about as classy as a campaign to attack an individual person can ever be expected to be.

After all, we've all seen what their counterparts on the other side look like...

Saturday, October 2, 2004
01:47 - Go Team Venture!
http://www.scrotalsafetycommission.com/

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Behold the glory that is the extent to which Venture Brothers rocks.

This link (which is probably not safe for work, though nobody felt the need to add that caveat in the show) is featured as a plot point in the episode aired tonight. And of course they got the domain and, uh, fleshed it out appropriately.

UPDATE: View the source. Scroll to the bottom.

Thanks to Keith & Fred for catching that. I looked, but I neglected to scroll...


00:49 - This time it was right, it would work, and nobody would have to get nailed to anything
http://www.triroc.com/wtc/

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Now that is more like it.

I sure hope it isn't too late for this to get pitched for real.

Friday, October 1, 2004
01:02 - It's even more so by day

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A few more random New York thoughts, after another day's worth of experiences...

Driving in the city is an adventure indeed, but it's really not that bad. Parking is even less heinously expensive than I was led to expect. See, movies and TV had shown me that all of New York's streets—the ones in Times Square in particular—were perpetually jammed with unmoving traffic, bumper to bumper and honking ceaselessly, and made up almost entirely of endless streams of taxis, private cars being all but unheard-of on the city streets. Well, now I know that the reality is quite a bit different. At any given moment, Times Square is full of a lot more people than cars. That goes for pretty much the whole part of the city that I've seen thus far: pedestrians rule the roads, which is really the major thing cars have to watch out for. Eight million people is a lot to be out and about on the sidewalks, and they've all come to know the patterns of the traffic signals down to a finely tuned science. They know exactly when a light's about to go yellow, at which time it's okay to start barreling across; and they know that as soon as one person starts the trek, you're safe to do so as well, because most cars will defer by politely hitting the brakes before they run you over, even if they have the green. (The notable exception is if a big-rig truck ends up wedged the wrong way down an alley or something and has to be backed up with the aid of several harried handlers directing foot traffic and telling the truck driver to just floor it and not worry about the idiots crossing behind him. I saw this twice, and it was fascinating enough in the first place just to imagine big-rigs in Manhattan at all. But there they were.) The sidewalks are an unrivalled exercise in high-speed collision avoidance, and one learns very quickly how to move in and out of the flow, where its eddies and currents are, and so on.

I discovered one interesting effect of having an iPod: with headphones in your ears, you give the impression of being a local—why, you're confident enough in your knowledge of the streets that you're listening to music!—which exempts you from a lot of the free tickets to comedy clubs or Falun Gong awareness flyers that people would otherwise try to press into your hands. I wondered if this, perhaps, was what accounted for the fact that I saw some three dozen iPod People walking around today alone; but on every one of these people, representing all walks of life, those telltale white earbuds led to an actual iPod held in the hand or on the belt. I swear, I have never seen so many iPods. I'd thought CapLion had to have been exaggerating when he told me how many New Yorkers had them, but he was dead-on right. Perhaps even more usefully telling is that among those people who had earbuds or headphones leading to music players of any type, the iPods outnumbered all others (chiefly disc-based players) about three to one, or perhaps more. I've never seen anything like that ratio, in any other city. Welcome to New York; here's your iPod.

Now, I might be getting a somewhat distorted picture of the city as a city, by basing my impressions of it on Times Square; but what has struck me hardest of all about it is that while the throngs of people milling through the sidewalks are quick-moving, brusque and businesslike, and while there are plenty of street artists and musicians and people selling framed art from stands on sidewalks, I didn't see a single panhandler—and, indeed, only one homeless person. I constantly felt hurried, but I never once felt nervous for my safety or that of my various possessions. This would be unheard-of in, say, San Francisco on Market Street, the closest parallel I can think of. Similarly, at midnight the sidewalks become lined with piles of garbage bags as the curbside restaurants finish cleaning up from the night of business, open up the trap-door in the sidewalk, and toss out the day's trash; but during the daylight hours, the area around Times Square has got to be one of the cleanest big-city areas I've seen. Especially considering the sheer vast number of people that pass through it on any given afternoon. The fact that the sidewalks and gutters aren't filled to overflowing with eddying soda cups and hot dog napkins turns my every preconception on its head. I'm really very impressed, and whoever can be credited with turning Times Square into this well-balanced a high-revving machine deserves accolades.

The kid who worked the ticket line for The Lion King confided tongue-in-cheekily in me and a Canadian couple behind me that the theater had put him in that job because he's so naturally anti-social; as a native New Yorker, when he says Thank you, and have a nice day to a departing customer, he's really saying I hope I never see you again; have a shitty day! We all chuckled, and I pointed out that we'd have to bear that in mind for all future occasions when service-industry people said that to us. But I never got such a vibe from anyone I encountered; from parking attendants to Jamba Juice employees to waiters, everybody seemed far more laid-back and easygoing than I was expecting. I even got into a little impromptu verbal sparring with a toll-booth operator at the Lincoln Tunnel who ended up laughing uproariously as he counted my change back to me. And I never once heard 'Ey! I'm walkin' heeah! in all my travels.

(And yes, the actual original Broadway production of The Lion King is notably better in just about all regards than either of the two other versions of it I've seen, in Toronto and in San Francisco. The actors put way more elaboration into their performances, and the sets are a good deal more involved—mostly just because since these guys have been doing it the longest, they've got every last move down to its quintessence and know just how to time things. Even when the cast isn't having their most "on" night, it's still as good a show as it gets. ...Next time I do this, I'll make sure to have plenty of advance, so I can get into a showing of Avenue Q.)

We saw Thoth in Central Park, playing his violin under a bridge. I'd seen him a couple of times before, once at a convention in LA and again at a Pride Parade in San Francisco. This was his natural habitat, and he looked at home in it.

Back to the subject of driving: the road system, particularly in the environs leading into the city, is so tangled from so many years of evolution that it's a wonder any of it has any consistency at all. There's a kind of disorienting nature to the circulating exit ramps that wind around the tool plazas, and to all the expressways with their "jug-handle" turn lanes (which turn out to work pretty sensibly, as a matter of fact) and their left-hand exits that make it impossible to simply sit in a lane and turn your brain off the way I'm used to in California. I now realize how spoiled we are out West: signage is austere, consistent, predictable; exit lanes are leisurely, always on the right, always giving you plenty of warning. Here, you've always got to be on your toes, lest the fast-lane on the left suddenly turn into an exit that leaps off a skyway bridge into Weehawken or Rahway or some other such quaintly named town, with nary a "San" or "Santa" or "Los" to be seen. I took Highway 1 back from the city tonight instead of the Turnpike, to avoid the tolls as well as to get a better view of what New Jersey looked like at street level. It's far from the industrial wasteland I'd been led to believe it was; it's quaint and charming, and you'll never fall asleep while careening down those narrow lanes trying to keep your place in line and avoid being peeled off into some exit to a town with a Chaucer-esque name that you had no intention of visiting.

Tomorrow I hit the Upper East Side for lunch at a recommended restaurant, then over to JFK to see what all the fuss over JetBlue is about. And then it's back to the wide open spaces and modestly two-story-at-most business districts of San Jose, which is going to look one hell of a lot different to me now.

The various regions of the country may be growing more similar with time; but there's still plenty of distance to go yet, and the remaining differences are so well-established and cherished by the respective locals that they'll probably be with us a long time yet. Thank goodness.

Thursday, September 30, 2004
02:19 - Back in one piece

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Guess what the in-flight movie was on the way up to Newark? The Day After Tomorrow.

After that set of images, laughable even if I weren't seeing them on an eight-inch screen ten feet away, was hardly sufficient to prepare me for what the real, intact, non-snow-drowned Manhattan would look like.

Driving down the West Side Highway along the water's edge from the George Washington Bridge, the overwhelming feeling I had was: frickin' unbelievable. Some cities, and I've been in a lot of big ones, make pretense of being in the same class as New York; but there's just no comparison. We're talking about an island that's wall-to-wall skyscrapers, from river to river. Every block of Manhattan is as tall and as dense as the downtown of any other city. I drove in to the parking garage a couple of blocks from Times Square, and though pictures really don't do it justice, here's one anyway:



Whatever it may have been in the past, Times Square is a theme park today, an unabashed showcase of the advertiser's art—an anti-capitalist's nightmare, the kind of thing to make scruffy bearded college sophomores clutch their faces and melt, shrieking, like the guy in Raiders of the Lost Ark. And as CapLion says, who met me there, the city's just, well, like that: it's constantly changing, always being reinvented and reimagined by each successive wave of visitors and residents. You can leave for a weekend, come back, and find that something has changed. A building has a new façade, or a bar has moved down the street, or the Times Square billboards have all been rearranged, or the Chevy's is now a Virgin Superstore...



...Or.

It's hard to know what to feel, seeing this for the first time, first-hand. It's in a state now where the impact, especially for someone who hasn't even been here recently enough to really remember what it once looked like, is dulled to the point of guilt by the neatness of the trappings, the shiny fencing devoid of memorials except for a few scattered flowers pinned to the bars, the crisp new PATH train station with an acre of spotless underground halogen-lit concrete parkland, and the inspirational messages of rebuilding and remembering and celebrating diversity and so on plastering the walls. There's a kiosk at the entrance to the station with info on the Freedom Tower, whose foundations are currently being begun in the pit that now looks like nothing so much as a benign construction site. And, well, I've got to agree with Mr. Lion who says that the ideal solution, for him, would have been to build the towers back exactly as they had been... except ten feet higher.

It's not just a psychological thing, either. This isn't San Diego, where they go out of their way to make the skyline out of buildings with significant non-90-degree elements, where buildings like the Freedom Tower and the attendant Libeskind quartz fragments wouldn't look out of place. This is New York. It's a city that, more than any other I've seen, is built of grids: firm, solid, rectilinear patterns that supported each other as they built themselves up over each other's shoulders, culminating in those two huge impenetrable blocks at the south end. Now that I've walked the streets, I know why the WTC looked the way it did: it's because Manhattan itself, the street plan, is built like a skyscraper. Tall, narrow, rectangular; the avenues the sturdy columns, the streets the lissom cross-pieces, Broadway the diagonal brace holding it all steady, and all of it anchored in a tangled root-ball of concrete in the financial district, the Village, SoHo, and everything south of Little Italy where we ate at Lombardi's, the First Pizza Place Ever (seriously, the very first pizzeria to open in the United States, the one against which all others have been subconsciously modeled, the one with the thick-cut slabs of fresh mozzarella instead of shredded cheese—mmm. But anyway...)

The Freedom Tower, in short, doesn't match anything else in Manhattan. There's nothing else around it that's diagonal, triangular, tapered, or (least of all) peters out halfway up to give way to a steel spiderweb that shams its way up to a prescribed height like the false head on an overevolved moth. It just doesn't make sense here. True, it may have been the least bad of the choices the Port Authority had to pick from; but none of the freakish postmodern proposals had the one crucial element a rebuilt WTC so desperately needed: to be more ambitious and audacious and businesslike and quintessentially New York than the original. No matter how many symbolic feet it attains at the height of its pinnacle, the Freedom Tower is going to always represent a sidelong cough and a muttered "Sorry—best we could do."

Ah well. I guess we'll get used to it. But I'm an out-of-towner, so my opinion isn't quite what I'd call "meaningful"—not in the way that one's would be who spent his whole life staring at those towers, knowing friends working high up in them, and then one day to have them erased from existence with only a gaping pit and a surgically-sterile PATH station to remember them by. I have no context by which to imagine that kind of loss, or the attendant need for justice to be done, or the inevitable frustration that the ones who carried it out are forever beyond the reach of our gavels or our fists. Mine's a loss in principle, a loss of an actor in the pop culture miasma that defines my consciousness, a loss that manifests itself in a need to reaffirm certain sureties about what this country stands for and how to fight for it. But it's all pretty empty compared to what someone would have gone through who now has to imagine those brick-paved streets buried under a foot of lung-shredding dust, every time he walks through them on the way from one mundane daily chore to the next.

But, well, I'm glad I at least got to see it for myself... I don't imagine I'll see it again while it still looks the way it does today. If New York is a microcosm of America at all—and it really is, I've got to say, as the first thing I thought when I exited the George Washington Bridge and got on the West Side Highway and saw the billboards and the names on the streets was no matter what Spalding Gray says, Manhattan is not just some island off the COAST of America; it IS America, all its commerce and energy and history all rolled into one sharp-edged gridwork that could serve as the seed for a whole new America if transplanted to another planet—then Lower Manhattan will be changed before we know it to another painting of glass and steel against the sky, and we'll have to consciously make time to reflect and remember, just as the signs exhort—because we have no time to pause or look back. There's work to do.

I've got more to see, tomorrow and part of Saturday. I haven't wrecked or lost the car yet, so I guess I'm ready for another go...


16:38 - But it's unfair to call him a flip-flopper
http://johnkerryads.websiteanimal.com/

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Hey, maybe tonight he'll suddenly, miraculously solidify his positions on everything from Iraq to Iraq and back again. But wouldn't that just be a shame for all the people with whom John Kerry currently agrees?

Via Dean Esmay.


15:02 - The Contrabulous Fabtraption of Professor Horatio Hufnagel (pictured, left)

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Mark sent me this picture:



...Which is really a hoot. But then he sent me a self-correction in the form of this page, which contains the photos from which the above picture was hoaxed.

You know, I've just got to say... if the Rather memos had been created by someone with even a fraction of the technical skill and sense of wit as the creator of this picture shows, we'd probably still not suspect any hijinks.

Doesn't that just go to show something or other about the spectacular ineptness of the actual forgers? It's mind-boggling, when you think about it.

Good think Fark.com isn't a 527 group. A potential risk to the nature of truth and fraud in the digital age, anyone? How lucky are we that the big examples of it thus far have been so foolish?

UPDATE: What on earth is wrong with these people? Guys, look, you don't have to keep trying to prove what bumbling muttonheads you are. We already know.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004
23:03 - Joyzie

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I'm posting from my hotel in New Jersey, where I'm staying as part of a work-sponsored visit to a customer site. I'm supposedly the "expert" on the software we hope they'll buy a lot of. I'm sure I can fake it. (Or at least I know where my lifelines are, if I need to call someone.)

This is my first trip to New York in over ten years; the last time, I wasn't old enough to really take it in properly. I've got a fellow-blogger friend to drop in on, though, so this promises to be as much an unexpected vacation as it is a business trip. I'll be sure to take in as much as I can. Broadway, the Met, Ground Zero... whatever's within walking and subway distance. (I've been lectured as to the folly of driving in the city.) I may also need to get a new CompactFlash card for my camera. They start at a gigabyte now? Ye gods.

But thanks to the magic of Wayport, I'll at least be tapped into the online IV. So if the world goes to hell, I'll not only be in the place where it's likeliest to happen, I'll be able to find out about it from the usual far-flung vantage points...

Tuesday, September 28, 2004
21:49 - Nearly as trusted as The Daily Show

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You know, after Rathergate, I'm never going to be able to watch this scene without breaking up in giggles:

Well, this reporter was...possibly a little hasty earlier and would like
to...reaffirm his allegiance to this country and its human president.
May not be perfect, but it's still the best government we have. For
now.
[notices "HAIL ANTS" sign taped up, tears it down]
Oh, yes, by the way, the spacecraft still in extreme danger, may not
make it back, attempting risky reentry, bla bla bla bla bla bla. We'll
see you after the movie.
-- Kent Brockman, backpedaling furiously,
"Deep Space Homer"

And yet those underground sugar mines still need slaves, Dan...

Monday, September 27, 2004
17:30 - What would you do for the Flying Car?
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/26/magazine/26FLYING.html?pagewanted=all&position=

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Egad. Sounds like some people are really getting aggressive about this.

''You can say our goal is to make the second car in every driveway a personal air vehicle,'' says Andrew Hahn, an analyst at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. Hahn's engineers are already committed to a 15-year time line for three successive generations of flying cars. The first will resemble a compact Cessna with folding wings that converts to road use; it should be available as a graduation gift when this year's freshman class leaves high school. The second, with a rollout planned for 2015, is a two-person pod with small wings and a rear-mounted propeller. The third will rise straight up like a mini-Harrier jet and should be on the market by the time your newborn has a learner's permit. The first of the three vehicles shouldn't cost more than a Mercedes.

An affordable flying car within five years is a dizzyingly fast evolution -- for everyone except Yoeli and other do-it-yourself auto pilots. They've been preparing for this future for decades, and unlike NASA, they can't afford to wait much longer.

There are some interesting packaging and marketing problems associated with bridging between cars and planes, as the article goes on to explain. Pilots who have inculcated themselves with the mentality that couches itself in fail-safes and redundancy and ever lower-tech and higher-reliability backup systems will recoil in horror at the idea of flying "smart cars" with GPS-guided automated landing scripts and collision detection systems, but a $1000 accreditation is hard to turn away from.

Does this mean we'll see flying cars within our lifetimes after all? To a Jetsons kid, they're way overdue; but to the cynical and desensitized post-space-race generation, this stuff seems as remote and fanciful as shrink rays and eye lasers and movies that aren't mere parodies of older, more sincere works of art.


13:31 - Don't speak up, or you'll crush his dissent

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This morning on KFOX, Greg Kihn talked about his recent curmudgeonly streak, growling about how much everything (by which I have to assume he must at least in part refer to John Kerry) sucks, which is turning off listeners. I guess this all must happen in the hours before I wake up, because after 9:00, he's always sunny to a fault, and introspective and apologetic and constantly talking about how he's trying to be positive about things, in response to reproachful e-mails and calls from listeners.

So then this guy calls in—"Brad", evidently someone Greg knows and has a history of irreverent, heckling calls—who says with great cheer and jocularity, "Well, there's already so much bad stuff going on in the world... this whole election season is so full of lies! I mean, you're sounding like a guy who served in Vietnam, and now is having his patriotism questioned! HAW HAW HAW HAW!"

Greg didn't respond at all to the bait; he just kept talking about how great it was to have a radio show, to be out of the hospital—he mentioned that he and Brad were now diverticulitis pals, both having had it. And in what has got to be the winner of the non-sequitur-of-the-year award, Brad goes, "Hey, careful—George Bush might have you arrested for saying things like that! HAW HAW HAW HAW HAW!"

Still no response from Greg; he rapidly changed the subject. And I just had to wonder: where is this curmudgeon he keeps talking about? No response to these dull-witted barbs, just easygoing self-effacement and rueful chuckles. I mean, if I were behind the microphone, I'd be asking exactly what lies were being told about Kerry and his Vietnam service—though the mainstream media seems convinced that the Swift Vets' claims have all been "debunked", the blogosphere is now issuing challenges to try to get them to explain just what the Swifties are "lying" about. Not that it's likely to get any traction; for most, including this Brad guy, it's enough to hear someone on the evening news dismiss them as just the "right-wing" equivalent of the Dan Rather memos. Hey, I mean, that makes it balanced, right? They're both lying! Let's not entertain the notion that one side is lying and the other one isn't, m'kay? That would be so curmudgeonly.

I guess that's why I don't have a radio show. Well, that and the fact that listening to me talk is about as much fun as watching Manos: Hands of Fate without Mike and the 'bots.

Sunday, September 26, 2004
01:05 - Sky Captain

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In a couple of words: thoroughly cool. In fact, I can hardly think of any complaints.

True, the movie is rife with little technological implausibilities (for example, sorry, you can't just converse at a normal level inside the cockpit of a fighter plane—and much of the technology, such as the floating airships, would require a power source not of this earth in scale); but the whole movie is one big technological implausibility, so I'm not going to fault them for that. It's one of those movies that takes place in a universe that's juuuust a bit parallel to our own—where happenstances like giant robots and apocalyptic plots by mad scientists are just sort of taken in stride, where city traffic still hurries people to and from work even as airplanes swoop through the streets at breakneck speed blasting away at each other from ten feet above your head. It's much, much larger than life, and as such it's pulp... and, hell, it's good pulp.

The movie is very deliberately vague as to the year it actually takes place; careful examinations of newspapers (yes, they come spinning out toward the camera over a backdrop of a churning printing press) reveal that it's a very kooky 1939. Everything from the New York skyscrapers to the Radio City Music Hall seem larger than they should, somehow. Even the cars are in shapes that never quite existed. It's not obvious what's different in this universe from the 1939 of our own. The year is never made any clearer in the dialogue, nor is there much else to indicate the geopolitics of this strange version of history; Hitler isn't mentioned, for example. It's a setting that's detailed enough in technical and historical matters to be fascinating, but vague enough that they don't have to worry about tedious explications of just how all this stuff works. It's the only way a pulp piece like this could work, and it's pulled off very well.

Even so, the movie plays quite loosely with anachronisms. I'll forgive things like holographic radar screens and levitating guard robots as part of the fun of the thing; but other stuff, such as the repeated references to "World War I" and "The first World War" are harder to excuse, as is the fact that Sky Captain flies a P-40 Warhawk, which first entered service in 1940. I can't help but think that these must be oversights. It's not like the movie is without errors; in one scene toward the beginning, when Sky Captain is striding into the humungous hangar on his base as the hundred-foot-high doors slide open, you see that up above the doors have those huge banks of dusty-opaque windows in grids like you saw in old factories, some of them punched out and shattered so as to give a very realistic, lived-in look. But, startlingly, I noticed that every one of these banks of windows had exactly the same pattern of broken and missing windows; it was repeated over and over, block after block of identically broken-out windows. They even appeared in that same formation elsewhere in the hangar. It's like they only bothered to make one bitmap of "factory windows" for every possible use; considering that the only things that weren't computer-generated were the actors (every single scene was shot in front of a blue screen), and considering how lavish and realistic every shot was, this erratum is particularly shocking, in a "gee that's silly" sort of way. An error that could only have come from careless computerized world-building, in a shot that's otherwise 100% convincingly real, tweaks the brain a bit, like the black cat/deja-vu effect in The Matrix. I'm sure there are other, similar flubs that I missed this time around, too.

But those are small things, and they don't detract at all from the story, which is told in excellently punchy fashion (I was sort of at a loss to think what role in the evil plan the kidnapped scientists played, but that's about the only thing I had trouble with). It isn't a funny movie, but there are four of five moments of such genuine humor—and administered with such zest and timing—that they deliver far more than their fair value in punctuating the narrative. (Polly's eye-roll at "Are you still glad you came?" was priceless. And the movie's very last line of dialogue can hardly be beat.) It seems to me that as an experiment in moviemaking technique, Sky Captain does much more successfully what Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within tried to do; where that movie fell down (the characters, being CG, still just didn't ring true enough to be believable), this one shines, because the actors are real and everything else is rendered (using Pixar's RenderMan, it should be noted). I fully expect to see more movies using this technique in the near future; it might just open up a region of storytelling that was inaccessible in the past. The current miserable state of Hollywood is to do remakes of old movies, even good ones, because there just aren't any new ideas that fit into the traditional medium. CG makes the execs look at 2D properties like Garfield and Scooby-Doo with the voracious eyes of those who see a new unmined field of ready-made ideas that haven't been done before because it was too expensive to animate them in 2D. But this is the first time I've seen CG actually successfully break open a whole genre of filmmaking. It's everything that was so wonderful about the Fleischer Superman cartoons, sharing with them a lot of DNA, as well as tapping into that steam-punk League of Nations vibe that seems so tantalizing even today. Perhaps it's just serendipity that the movie that does it is itself a remake of a particular film genre; but it's a really good one, regardless, and superbly worth one's time.

(Oh yes... wouldn't the radiation in that cave have ruined all of Polly's film anyway? Not that it really matters from a plot standpoint, I guess, but I kept expecting them to make a big deal of that little detail...)

(Oh, and that Michaelangelo-esque statue in Totenkopf's office, of the guy pulling out the other guy's brain, was a work of inspired genius.)


18:28 - Run with the dogs tonight

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To the lady standing with her young son on the corner of the road leading up to New Almaden, holding an armload of large flags and a big sign saying HONK TO SUPPORT OUR TROOPS, all I could do was yell, "I'd honk if I had a horn!"

A smile and a chuckle exchanged with a stranger. You get that walking a dog, too. And it makes it hard to listen to Pet Shop Boys songs sniveling about "suburban hell" on one's iPod headphones, when suburban life is so very fulfilling on days like this.

(Of course, it should go without saying that five miles down the road, at the Almaden Art and Wine Festival in the park, the people on the streetcorner were waving signs of an entirely different nature.)

I think I'll go take in Sky Captain tonight. I haven't been to a movie in a long time, and this seems like as good an excuse as any.

Thursday, September 23, 2004
17:16 - Fill in the blank
http://www.megat.co.uk/wrong/

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This is bound to come in handy someday. Sure seems like it would save a lot of time and effort in a lot of discussions.

UPDATE: Brian sends this noteworthy addition.

Oh, and for no particular reason, here's this one again. Quite possibly my favorite single page on the entire Internet.


17:05 - And capital wealth is thereby created, somehow
http://www.krohm.net/bernd.htm

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Okay, now this is novel, I gotta admit. Give me money or I'll eat this cute bunny-rabbit!

It doesn't look good for poor Bernd...


14:12 - Either that, or the SETI@home of journalism
http://www.microcontentnews.com/articles/borgjournalism.htm

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JMH sends this rather well-done piece on blogging from a journalist's perspective, using a metaphor that a lot of us will probably appreciate.

Weblogs aren't nearly so malevolent, and most bloggers get the warm fuzzies when they think about online content. But allow me to share the flip side of the story: if you're a journalist trying to break news, Blogs are the new Borg.

Blogs relentlessly track down every scrap of news, assimilating it into the Blog Collective hive-mind with stunning efficiency. It doesn't stop there: individual blogs each add a small insight to the story, drawing on their personal experience and contributing to the conversation. Then the conversation takes over, exploring every possible implication and insight with a ferocity that astounds.

When all is said and done, what is the role of journalists in breaking news? Are journalists relics of a golden era, now useful only as a conduit to pass along the whispers of the hive-mind to the unplugged masses? Or have we been reduced to Stamps of Approval, as we validate blog-based trends with the imprimatur of the New York Times or the Washington Post?

. . .

To use a crude metaphor, if you think about covering a story as putting together puzzle pieces, then the Blog Collective tends to shine when it's finding new puzzle pieces, and putting together simpler puzzles.

Journalists, on the other hand, tend to do their best work with really tough puzzles, or in finding puzzle pieces that demand primary research: phone calls, interviews, and the like.

Sounds a lot like distributed multiprocessing to me, a computational method for which some problems are better suited than others. And I guess that can be the source of another thought experiment: does the Borg itself function as the logical conclusion of the distributed multiprocessing concept, with all the strengths and weaknesses associated with it?

With that in mind, the synergistic relationship that Hiler describes here sounds like a very likely projection of what the journalistic landscape will look like in the not-so-distant future.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004
17:07 - A discriminating customer
http://dotclue.org/archives/002124.html

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J Greely has a post in defense of discrimination. Seriously.

There's "progress" afoot, and it ain't always good.


15:30 - It's not vandalism if the good guys do it
http://www.stopbushpostcards.com/

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Hey, New York? Howsabout showing some of that old-fashioned spirit and busting some heads?

Unless, of course, this is the kind of publicity you want to have.

Via Paul Denton.


11:34 - You'll be letting out your own right names if you're not careful

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I got an e-mail from someone claiming that the following quote from Dick Cheney was equivalent to Microsoft-esque FUD:

"The danger here is without a very firm commitment on the part of the president of the United States to put in place a vision to make a decision and live with that decision ... what you get out there on the other end is confusion, weakness, uncertainty and indecision," the vice president told about 200 people at a town hall meeting.

Because, you know, calling a position that flip-flops 180 degrees every two weeks "confusion, weakness, uncertainty and indecision" is such a slanderous misrepresentation.

If Microsoft were this honest and straightforward about Linux, there'd be sports stadiums named after Red Hat by now.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, there's real Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt being peddled about Iraq.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004
18:12 - What do they make telephone wires out of in Texas?
http://cms.firehouse.com/content/article/article.jsp?sectionId=45&id=32289

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File this one under "Far too implausible to be fiction":

Upon arrival, the engine company found a vehicle still running, hanging on the telephone wires by its right front tire.

Witnesses reported that the car had been traveling westbound on Alief-Clodine when the driver lost control of the vehicle, crossed the median, and made contact with the guide wire from the ground to the telephone pole, propelling the vehicle upward onto the wires.

Witnesses also reported that the driver jumped down from the vehicle and ran to catch a bus prior to the arrival of Engine 2 and the Harris County Sheriff's Department.

The vehicle ran for over an hour until the oil had completely drained from the motor and it seized.

That'll be something to tell the grandkids about...


15:35 - Okay, now I feel silly

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I keep hearing about "pilates". Exercise videos, classes, memberships—they all talk about "pilates" now. And all this time, I'd had no idea what the word referred to. I'd assumed it was a new muscle group that the health-fad manufacturers had identified, somewhere in your lower back region (or so I imagined), that if you exercised them they would make your whole body better, or that it was imperative to give a thorough workout every day.

I was picturing people doing these sets of weird sideways crunches all evening in the aerobics rooms of gyms, working those pilates; after a few weeks, they'd have developed these huge pilates, sticking out of the sides of their lower backs, and they'd have to buy whole new sets of clothes to fit over the huge slabs of pilate muscles they'd built up.

It was only today that I discovered that that's not what Pilates is at all.

Hey, c'mon—it wasn't that stupid a misunderstanding! ...Was it?


13:23 - Once in a lifetime

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Politics is by its nature a very subjective game. A lot of the time, it seems, you can use the same set of facts to "prove" completely opposing points of view. Touchy-feely, human interest anecdotes—whether the sob story of some oppressed worker, or a soul-stirring tale of capitalism and entrepreneurship making a dream come true—carry a lot of weight with people and do more, perhaps, to sway a person to one side of the aisle or the other than a table of statistics ever could. It's a rare occasion indeed when one side turns out to be 100%, unequivocally right about something.

Which is why the CBS/Memogate scandal is such a "big deal". No matter what one might think of the bloggers who ran it to ground and relentlessly pushed it until CBS could no longer breathe, they turned out to be right, and nobody can take that away from them by calling them "partisan hacks" or muttering darkly about imagined political ties. They were right, and they proved themselves to be both more technically competent and more scrupulous than one of our largest and most trusted journalistic banner-bearers, and cast doubt by extension upon the honor of the entire mainstream media. By whatever objective scoring system you use, these guys—Powerline, LGF, INDC Journal, and others—ought to revel in the well-earned spotlight that's now turned on them (though, hey, by the look of that one dude's desk, it might be more of a desk lamp...).

And this is why it's so pathetic to see some people still trying to complain that the bloggers who unmasked CBS for what it is—little more than a bought-and-paid-for partisan propaganda machine—are somehow lessened by being politically motivated. As though there's something political about the truth! This is, again, one of those rarest of things: an event in political history where there's an incontrovertible truth, and a set of people who recognize it as such and another set who were lying. There's no "interpretation" here, no question of "credibility" or "uncertainty". Those damn memos were forged, and you either saw them as such or you tried to contribute to the lie. There's really no middle ground. And it doesn't matter in the slightest what the political motivations were of the people who staked out their claim on that piece of coveted land called Truthsville; they could have been neo-Nazis, or they could have been Communists, or they could have been invading space mutants—it doesn't matter, they were right, and those who opposed them were wrong. You can't throw out a proof because you don't like the look of the guy proving it. And if the bloggers who did the leg-work here all happen to share a political goal (it should be noted that not all of them even identify as Republicans), well, so what? Rather than stamping your foot and wailing like a kid who doesn't understand why his mother won't buy him candy, maybe it would be worthwhile to think about what else these guys might possibly be right about.

I've been waiting for a volta in this turbulent discourse for some time now: the turning point, the event at which the media realizes that its own bias might make a bigger, more saleable story than stumping for John Kerry. So far nothing's been sufficient. But Memogate might just be it. The Washington Post has turned on CBS and produced nice flashy glossy timelines comparing the fake memos to real ones from the same time period. Time has the above-linked blog-pumping cover story, and Newsweek might follow suit. The pressure to cover this story of internal pathology within the mainstream media has been growing, though to do so would be to turn away from the Kerry cheerleading that's at the center of the debate, and so it's not happened yet; but now this story is so big, so hard to keep out of public discourse, that to ignore it is to abdicate any pretense of "keeping the public informed". This might, in other words, be that volta we've been waiting for.

It seems that Kerry is trying desperately to shift the discussion to Iraq, and much good may it do him—but with Memogate now as deep into the public consciousness as it is, and with it having reached the critical mass necessary to sustain a journalistic chain reaction that keeps it alive in the headlines for more than a couple of days, Kerry's entire campaign is now poisoned. Who can say they trust him now? Who can say they trust his campaign? How can Kerry advertise in such a way that paints him as a trustworthy good guy and makes it stick? I think it's really too late for him in this election; he's as good as gone, by all the electoral polls, and his party really ought to concentrate now on figuring out how to rebuild itself into a body with some credibility and some reasoning power, rather than ad-hominem attacks, petulant whining, and hypocritical screeching about an imagined "evil" that the rest of the country now sees only in that party's own tactics.

UPDATE: Yes, I know "truth" and "fact" are not the same thing... or so some smart bearded people in universities say. That's sort of my point.

Anyway, Matt H. e-mails the following thoughts:

The lefties and the Dems seem to treat opinions as facts and facts as
opinions. I've noticed that the MSM, if it wants to "report" on inconvenient
truths, simply encapsulates them in quotes from Republicans. "Republicans
say the memos are forgeries." "Republicans say the sky is blue."
"Republicans say the sun will rise in the east tomorrow." The idiots
comprising the 15% that Jonathan Alter talked about will read this as "The
documents are not forgeries." "The sky is not blue." "The sun will rise in
the West tomorrow."

And the opinions that are facts : "Bush did not fulfill his National Guard
duty." "Halliburton has done something nefarious and Cheney has benefited."
"Iraq is a quagmire." "Less than 1000 combat deaths is a military
catastrophe."

Due to the way the MSM's and the Dems are acting, truth is
_starting_ to become political. It's becoming necessary to vote against
these guys, because of their lack of respect for truth! It's getting so
absurd that who else _except_ Republicans would be worried about the truth?

What's that word again? Oh yeah: indeed.

UPDATE: Geez, there are examples of this all over.

Monday, September 20, 2004
20:38 - Let's not go there
http://www.chinpokomon.com/archives/001309.html#001309

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Kevin has quite the pithy comment about European domestic politics. Sounds about right to me, from what little I hear.

I guess it stands to reason that this is what "the world after history" would look like. Funny—to me, it doesn't sound much worth living in.


15:29 - Throwing Strikes
http://coldfury.com/index.php?p=4867

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You've got to see this video that Mike found. See it, and wonder how deeply buried the sentiments expressed in it really are anymore.

And then see what he's dug up as a rejoinder to it.

Oh, man.

Sunday, September 19, 2004
15:49 - Denial of the conspiracy is the surest sign that it exists

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Huh boy... I really don't know whether I should laugh or cry. As long as I can be sure that this really is the form the Left's death throes will take this election season, and that they won't be rewarded for this kind of insanity with a victory at the polls.

See, what's apparently happening is that now that all the big media outlets (except for CBS) have acknowledged that the Killian memos are fakes, they're shifting to a hysterical wave of finger-pointing, to try to figure out where they came from—and of course it couldn't have been one of their own, pure as the driven snow that they are. The prime suspects, of course, are Bush and Karl Rove, in an ingenious insidious ploy that has used the blogosphere and the mainstream media both as musical instruments in the hands of some Satanic virtuoso.

How does one come to believe that this is how "the other side" works? How does one come to believe in the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy? How does a magazine like Time descend so far into madness to headline an upcoming exposé, "Bush Campaign Keeping Close Eye on Blogs, Using Them To Mainline Information to the G.O.P. Faithful" (via LGF)? I mean, I know I have never been contacted by dark-suited operatives offering to feed me information manufactured or illegally purloined so as to thwart the Kerry campaign. I can't imagine Powerline or LGF or InstaPundit being similarly "mainlined", mostly because these guys write the way they think: carefully. Maybe I'm just isolated in some odd islet of unconventional thought with the rest of these guys, but I've always been under the impression that the widely-read right-wing bloggers are such because of their own reasoning, not because of what they're being told to believe by GOP operatives.

After all, LGF points out that the likes of Matthew Yglesias see nothing wrong with explicitly mentioning the names of people in the Daschle office and Kerry campaign who are "mainlining" the Left side of the blogosphere with powdered dirt. So apparently it's just assumed that there's a similar force directing the right-wing blogs like marionettes, but it's just too shadowy and sinister for us to give it its name. We couldn't, of course, have been clever enough on our own to, say, recognize the Killian memos as fakes without a "highly technical" dossier on them being fed into the Freepersphere by a top-hatted undercover agent by the name of "Buckhead". Without that analysis we'd never have seen those stupid Word printouts for what they were.

I could choose to be insulted that the other side would think us so gullible and dependent upon outside help; or I could choose to be disappointed that they think the things we believe are so untenable that we have to have superiors feeding us intravenously with distilled "talking points" to regurgitate; or I could choose to be saddened that they apparently do have to have such top-down direction, without which their narrative rapidly shakes itself to pieces, between calling a scandal "no big deal" and then jumping up and down about the conspiracy that must be in charge of such a devastating blow to their credibility.

What is there to do but sit and slowly shake one's head back and forth?

Saturday, September 18, 2004
01:59 - Arrrr
http://grant.henninger.name/iPatch/

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The day be upon us, says I.




00:57 - A little down-home cookin'
http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/002554.php

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Captain Ed has a real masterpiece of a post up. It seriously must be read to be believed.

I wouldn't sully its perfection by presuming to excerpt it.


23:03 - The trap is sprung
http://news.myway.com/top/article/id/427395|top|09-18-2004::15:09|reuters.html

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So:

"There are a lot of questions about the documents and they need to be answered," Bush told the Union Leader newspaper of Manchester, New Hampshire, after a week in which some experts questioned whether the documents had been fabricated by those seeking to damage Bush in his re-election race.

"I think what needs to happen is people need to take a look at the documents, how they were created, and let the truth come out," Bush added.

You don't suppose George W. Bush is more familiar with the output of Microsoft Word than Dan Rather is, do you?


19:40 - Celsius 41.11
http://www.citizensunited-interactive.org/C41.11/

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I doubt this will hit screens like F9/11 did; but check it out online, at the very least. Celsius 41.11, a refutationof Moore's movie—one of many in the works, it seems—has a trailer that's pretty dang powerful. Go and see.

Check out the protester woman explaining why she likes Saddam Hussein:

When you talk about a "dictator", well, there's pros and there's cons.
If a dictator provides free health care, then I like that dictator!
If a dictator provides university and education for everyone, then I like that dictator!

Ah, the old free-health-care-and-literacy argument in favor of socialist dictators everywhere. People love 'em because the socialist part is so attractive that it makes them forget all about the dictator part. The promise of free admittance into hospitals and universities excuses all else.

Isn't it amazing how cheaply some people are willing to sell their humanity?

UPDATE: Paul Denton has comments.


12:24 - That eye no longer seems like a reassuring symbol

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Friday, September 17, 2004
11:32 - Okay, that's just weird

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Going through my spam this morning, I saw one message that talked about "married women looking for discrete encounters". I chuckled inwardly—all right! Multiple times!

And not three seconds later, Greg Kihn, in one of his sponsorship ads, said, "If you're a discernible customer, you're gonna want to go to Stevens Creek Toyota..."

Boy, not many continuum fans this morning, huh?

Thursday, September 16, 2004
22:29 - Saves us all a lot of effort
http://www.iraruskin.org/ruskin40yrs?PHPSESSID=379f573801c79fe05b075918ba180086

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This just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy somehow: a local political ad, currently airing on many different cable channels, for State Assembly candidate Ira Ruskin.



What makes it so cool is that it's just so forthright. It doesn't pull any punches; it doesn't make any empty promises. It ends with the tagline: We know where he stands. And indeed we do.

Which means the ad has the interesting property that for people who oppose the things Ruskin says he stands for, the ad is as powerful a case for voting against him as it is for people who agree with him to vote for him. If Ruskin's opponent wanted to run an ad telling his base why not to vote for Ruskin, he may as well just pay to have Ruskin's own ad aired more frequently.

It really is a marvel of honesty, and for that—if for nothing else—I must tip my hat to Mr. Ruskin.


13:31 - Now that took guts
http://timblair.spleenville.com/archives/007506.php

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Looks like Kevin Drum, one of the Left's most widely-read bloggers, has come out in favor of retreating from the Memo War:

I think it's time for everyone to give up on this. The memos are almost certainly fakes, they're sucking up media bandwidth that could be better used elsewhere, and Dan Rather is toast. Besides, there was really nothing in them that told us anything new.

Time to move on.

Go to Tim Blair's site to see a collection of the reactions from his readers that he must have known he'd receive. It's really quite breathtaking. As EvilPundit says in Blair's comments, "The poor bastard is trying to plug the holes in a sinking ship, and the other crew members are beating him with baseball bats."

It really took some balls to go ahead and say it, in light of these comments... and it really illustrates what peril one must be in, as a big-time Lefty writer, to know what kind of readers you have and what they expect from you.

Drum ought to be applauded for his clear vision, and more so for his courage. I wouldn't want to be in his shoes right about now.

UPDATE: Joshua Marshall of Talking Points Memo was similarly applauded for his intellectual honesty by a long-time fan. Phew, boy. These guys are really tolerant of dissenting points of view, aren't they? Right up until you express one. (Via John N.)

UPDATE: USA Today has a roundup of reactions from both sides of the blogosphere. Looks like a consensus to me, if there's a divergence in how happy it makes people. (Via Jonathan H.)

Wednesday, September 15, 2004
13:09 - Well, at least they're being honest now

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One interesting side effect of the CBS/memo-forgery thing is that now that everyone is spinning madly over it, with every news organization but CBS holding interviews with bloggers demonstrating the memos' falsity, and CBS itself continuing to insist upon their authenticity and calling their opponents "partisan hacks" and such, is that it's seemingly made a lot of people lower their guard. There's no longer any pretense being made about media bias, or the purported lack thereof: it's all a given now, now that what we're discussing is so much more focused on a single event and person.

This past weekend, for example, we had the release of the Democrats' "Fortunate Son" video, which is founded upon the forged documents and features Dan Rather (as though anyone could possibly imagine that a coincidence). Under normal circumstances, wouldn't a news organ trying to dispel accusations of bias refuse to put its most prominent anchorperson in such proximity with a political party and its advertising? Wouldn't it shy away from anything that even looks like an endorsement? But that seems not to even matter anymore—everybody knows Dan Rather is staunchly opinionated toward one side now, and the only question in the air is whether he has any actual journalistic integrity left at all. It's really quite a stunning development, I think.

In other words, the edifice of the "impartial media" really has fallen, very suddenly. The mask has dropped. And of course there'll be no putting it back on.

So now that these bodies of authority over the information we consume are no longer hiding the fact that they're hiding things from us, we get stuff like this stunning admission—nay, taunt—by members of the Borders Bookstore employees' union, instructing employees to do everything in their power to prevent customers from buying the anti-Kerry book Unfit for Command.

You guys don’t actually HAVE to sell the thing!

Just “carelessly” hide the boxes, “accidentally” drop them off pallets, “forget” to stock the ones you have, and then suggest a nice Al Franken or Micheal Moore book as a substitute. Borders wants those recommends, remember?

I don’t care if these Neandertals in fancy suits get mad at me, they aren’t regular customers anyway. Other than “Left Behind” books, they don’t read. Anything you can do to make them feel unwelcome is only fair. They are the people pushing retailers to cut costs, don’t forget. And they would censor your speech, your books, your music in a heartbeat, so give them a taste of it!

Don’t get mad, get even!

We've been increasingly suspecting that the bookstores might be doing something like this, but it seemed far too far-fetched to be more than a conspiracy theory; after all, the first commenter at Kevin's site said (several weeks ago), "I'm a little surprised by this, that a huge conglomo-mega-corp would do this. I'm sure it had more to do with whoever stocked that table than corporate guidelines if I had to guess."

Well, I guess sometimes one can't overestimate how weird reality can be.

Don't you just love it, though? "And they would censor your speech, your books, your music in a heartbeat, so give them a taste of it!" Where have we heard this kind of language before? They'll kill you as soon as look at you! Don't feel bad, they're not even human! They don't feel pain!

Just remember, this isn't censorship, because it's by the good guys. For a good cause. With good intentions.

I swear, the more hysterical these people get about how evil their opponents are, the more people they're going to end up driving away from their side of the aisle for good. Not everyone is so willfully blind as to forever ignore the discrepancies between what they see and what they're told.

UPDATE: Kevin found an official statement from the Borders Union website that's just a scream to read. Unintentionally so, I think... but it's so hard to tell.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004
17:50 - Dueling Truths
http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=12613_Killians_Secretary-_These_Are_No

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Go check out this LGF thread, where members give play-by-play commentary not only on Dan Rather's continued nutcase stonewalling on the document-forgery case, but of Brit Hume on Fox interviewing Scott Johnson (of Powerline fame), mentioning Charles Johnson and LGF numerous times, and showing the recreation-overlays.

One TV audience is being fed a line of what another TV audience is now learning first-hand is bullcrap.

I don't ever want to hear anyone tell me that Fox is "too biased to be useful" again. Ever.


16:49 - Hurricane warriors defend humanity

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Here's the latest creative outpouring from the Ar-Rahman list:

I could write you a poem
With my aching tears.
Aching tears don't repair scars.
I must place my blood on my palm
Regardless of my old age.

Young Iraqi boys fight like lions,
Iraq’s neighbors watch soccer.
Iraq’s puppets
Fire American weapons;
They kill Iraqis
In vengeance for dead U.S. soldiers.

Iraq! I've built cuts and bruises
Around my heart to feel your pain
Until you're free.
I wish I could be there with you.
My back can still take a bomb or two.
I'd rather bleed to death
And not see you bleed.

My last hope is I die for you…
Burry me in Baghdad,
In Fallujah,
In Najaf,
In Sammarra,
In Ramadi;
Burry me
Inside every grain of your soil.

Iraq, you fell to your feet before.
Each time you pursed out from your wounds
Before your enemies dug their heels.
They all fled like wild creeps.

George deceived you:
He entered your home
From the back door.
He paraded your prisoners
Like sick dogs;
He raped your daughters and mothers;
He disintegrated your pride;
He dismantled your joints;
He severed your heart from your soul;
He bombed your mosques and libraries;
He robbed your galleries and museums;
He stained your earth;
He polluted your air;
He poisoned your water;
He spoiled your food;

Every drop of blood George spilled
Will clot his brain
And sicken his heart.
His nights shall become dreams
Of Hell Fire.
His subhuman followers
Shall be reduced to talking pigs.

George commits war crimes,
Victims return on flights of hurricanes and storms;
In seconds they sweep
What B52 carpet-bomb in days.

Hurricanes, Charlie and Frances invaded Florida.
Iraq is holding on its last breath.
Najaf, Fallujah, Sammara and Baghdad
Cannot dig enough graves
Under hails of U.S. bombs.
Is God giving us a sign?
Could this be just a mild warning
For the worse is yet to come?
Hurricanes, Charlie and Frances
Ruined millions of homes;
Nearly 6-million homeless
Join their Iraqi peers.
George W. Bush claimed God is on his side.
Believe George or God,
The choice is yours.

Islam weeps when humanity bleeds.
Hurricanes and U.S. Zionists
Are enemies at war:
Hurricane warriors defend humanity;
Zionist killers kill Arabs and Muslims.

America and Israel reduced Palestine
To concentration camps.
Hitler giggles in his grave,
His grandchildren carry his name.
Today they murder Afghanis and Iraqis;
Tomorrow they will bomb Iran and Syria.
Israelis, Palestinians, Afghanis and Iraqis
Prepare more cemeteries;
United States ships coffins free of charge

Saddam? Who?


04:01 - Life on the urban frontier

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I just witnessed the freakiest thing I think I've ever seen in the hallowed halls of suburbia.

About fifteen minutes ago, sitting in my comfy upstairs chair watching Lupin the Third, I heard outside my window a sudden flurry of caterwauling and rustling leaves. It sounded like a typical cat fight, coming from the hedges and brush at the far side of the house on our right at the end of the cul-de-sac; and I was about to dismiss it as such... except that the yowling and the tumbling in the dry leaves lasted for nearly half a minute, sounding particularly strained and earnest. When it died out, it did so quickly, as though a bag had suddenly been thrown over the participants. And, as I realized a few moments later, there had only been one cat's voice in the fracas.

An unsettling thought therefore ran through my mind on spindly legs, but I hustled it out and went back to the TV-watching. Cat fights can be weird, I thought.

Then, a moment later, Capri came into my room, making those little whimpery noises he makes when he wants a walk—or, more generically, when he'd like to go outside please. So I pulled on some shoes and went downstairs with him, put on his collar, and we headed out the front door.



Capri tugged forward immediately, and I could immediately see why: right in front of me, about forty feet away, a taut, loping, canine shape, about knee-high with tall pointy ears, trotted out from behind the car parked at the sidewalk on the right, looked at me, and then glided briskly leftward across my field of vision and then away from me down the road. And it was followed immediately by three others, each emerging from some nook between cars... and one carrying something heavy and limp and, well... cat-shaped.

Coyotes. Four of them. Hunting in a pack... in my cul-de-sac, right outside my window.

And they just made off with one of our next-door neighbors' cats!

I've heard coyotes yelping and howling in the ravine behind the power station down where I walk Capri, late at night; I've known they come within vocal range of my bedroom window, but I'd never known they'd become so brazen as to take the hunt right down the middle of a suburban cul-de-sac. Apparently the local coyotes have begun to evolve into the ecological niche vacated by wolves, and now hunt in packs very similar to their larger cousins; their quarry is necessarily smaller, but a cat is quite a prize, especially for something as small as a coyote.

I tried running after the hunting party as they paused at the end of the cul-de-sac, where it opens onto the major avenue; they stood there, seemingly unconcerned, surveying the situation, and knowing I couldn't follow them because Capri was far more interested in sniffing the ground where they'd left their various calling cards than in giving chase. (Probably just as well.) But I likewise couldn't drag him back inside so I could grab a Mag-lite and go running after them; so I had to just let him finish satisfying his olfactory curiosity, myself watching passively as the coyotes turned and vanished into the night, and then took Capri back inside the house where he lay down seemingly exhausted from the night's sleuthing.

I grabbed the flashlight and ran out in the direction where I was pretty sure the coyotes had gone—left turn at the avenue, down to the vacant lot that abuts the wooded ravine with Guadalupe Creek at the bottom—but the trail was long cold. Again, it's probably just as well.

Our neighbors are going to have an unpleasant surprise tomorrow morning; I guess it's up to Lance to tell the story.

But it's something to have witnessed it first-hand, lemme tell you.

Monday, September 13, 2004
00:42 - Today is a great day for democracy!

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Oh, and I would appreciate it if anyone who thinks that Bush is guilty of waging war on our democracy and exploiting 9/11 for his own political purposes would please take a look at this.

We're not doing any setting of the bar here, folks.

Saturday, September 11, 2004
21:54 - "We were supposed to get the TNG future, not the B5 one"
http://ravishinglight.blogspot.com/2004/09/memory.html

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I'm not going to post anything today, or at least about today... partly because I'm just too swamped in projects, and partly because I don't think I have anything original to say this time around.

But Paul Denton does; and though it is his own unique tale, he may as well have been speaking for me, because his perspective is one that's quite close to my own heart. He makes observations that I wish I'd thought of making. And he describes a mental process, shaped by pop-cultural forces I find all too familiar, that I underwent in parallel.

So just go read it already.

Friday, September 10, 2004
18:48 - Now that's some irony
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/007782.php

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Powerline, which has been one of the big movers in the memo-forgery scandal still being unwrapped, has discovered that the handwriting-analysis expert that CBS got to verify the authenticity of the memos is this guy.

It's so surreal, I keep expecting to wake up any moment now. I mean, read the article... and then consider the context.

I swear. I am just sitting here with my face in my palms, slowly weaving side to side as the credibility of the news organization I spent every evening of my pre-college life with crashes to earth.

Every minute brings some new revelation. I don't have anything to add—just posting something because I have the feeling this will be one of those moments I'll want to look back on from the comfortable distance of several years in the future, so I can see what I was doing when...


15:15 - Good start
http://worldtribune.com/worldtribune/breaking_12.html

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If this holds any water, it's exactly what I and so many of us have been wanting to see for three years now.

This September 11 marks the third unforgettable anniversary of the worst mass murder in American history.

After September 11, many in the Muslim world chose denial and hallucination rather than face up to the sad fact that Muslims perpetrated the 9-11 terrorist acts and that we have an enormous problem with extremism and support for terrorism. Many Muslims, including religious leaders, and “intellectuals” blamed 9-11 on a Jewish conspiracy and went as far as fabricating a tale that 4000 Jews did not show up for work in the World Trade Center on 9-11. Yet others blamed 9-11 on an American right wing conspiracy or the U.S. Government which allegedly wanted an excuse to invade Iraq and “steal” Iraqi oil.

After numerous admissions of guilt by Bin Laden and numerous corroborating admissions by captured top level Al-Qaida operatives, we wonder, does the Muslim leadership have the dignity and courage to apologize for 9-11?

. . .

Only moderate Muslims can challenge and defeat extremist Muslims. We can no longer afford to be silent. If we remain silent to the extremism within our community then we should not expect anyone to listen to us when we complain of stereotyping and discrimination by non-Muslims; we should not be surprised when the world treats all of us as terrorists; we should not be surprised when we are profiled at airports.

Simply put, not only do Muslims need to join the war against terror, we need to take the lead in this war.

As to apologizing, we will no longer wait for our religious leaders and “intellectuals” to do the right thing. Instead, we will start by apologizing for 9-11.

We are so sorry that 3000 people were murdered in our name. We will never forget the sight of people jumping from two of the highest buildings in the world hoping against hope that if they moved their arms fast enough that they may fly and survive a certain death from burning.

. . .

We are so sorry.

For more information visit our website at: www.freemuslims.org

This had better be for real. I'd hate to have gotten my hopes up for nothing. Right now, though, the server linked above isn't responding to pings, so who knows. This might or might not be earnest, or it might or might not represent a statistically significant number of Muslims. I'll have to wait to find out, though; after all, as we know, stuff can be forged.

But this is the solution we've all wanted: Muslims taking the lead in weeding out their own ranks, perceiving it as being in their own interest to confront their rogue element and present a benign face to the world. Any corporation or government body would aggressively subject itself to rigorous vetting to maintain moral consistency and honor; CEOs step down, Senators resign, maverick employees are fired. It's a system that's served the Western world very well: in a free market of ideas, it's in your own interest as an organized body to hold your members to strict standards, to expect every member to be a good representative of your group, and to own up in good faith to failures on that count. It's a system, however, that has until now eluded the Muslim community, whose leaders prefer instead to chant mantras of Islam being a "religion of peace" and the perpetrators of terrorist attacks being "not really Muslims" and the victims of such attacks being "legitimate targets" (often all in the same breath). In a culture where admission of culpability is the worst possible failing, these kinds of reactions can possibly be seen as rational, which is not to excuse them. ("The soft bigotry of low expectations", anyone?)

But this is the modern world, and it's ruled by modern notions such as the free market of ideas to a degree far greater than we really realize, without the benefit of first-hand historical context. In the age of mass media and light-speed communications, the world's most repressed societies are far more aware of how different life can be in other parts of the world than even the enlightened societies of the Middle Ages were. It's in this environment that it has to sink in that applying Western-style standards of conduct to one's own religious group, no matter how huge or decentralized, is the only way to resolve this clash of civilizations without the world erupting into a conflagration. (I'm not sure how this can be accomplished without a mechanism such as excommunication by which members, if they value their faith, can be kept in line—but at least nobody's ruling out the adoption of a more flexible, possibly more centralized form of Islam that's still considered "legitimate", which seems necessary in any case.)

The War on Terror has been a bleak prospect, though a necessary one, these past three years: regardless of successes in Afghanistan and Iraq, and in decreasing terrorists' power worldwide and defending our own borders against any major attacks since 9/11, there's always been a vague feeling that we weren't going to get out of this without at least a couple of cities, somewhere, going up in a mushroom cloud. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not next year, but within our lifetimes.

I really hope this "Free Muslims" group is for real. Because they've got the right idea, and their position catching on is what our world's future depends upon. They need all the encouragement they can get. And so from them at least, if not from the entire Muslim world yet (for clearly they don't speak for all of it), I say—with full awareness of the gravity implied—"apology accepted".


12:01 - I'm dyin' here...
http://acepilots.com/mt/archives/001216.html

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Just unearthed! Secret memo proving John Kerry was in Cambodia for Christmas!

Thursday, September 9, 2004
16:24 - Sir, we have achieved total meme penetration
http://www.ucomics.com/boondocks/2004/09/09/

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Aaron McGruder once more deftly demonstrates the depth of his logical and critical thinking skills, and his estimation of those of his readers:



Boy, I sure can't wait till the animated version of this stomps its way onto Adult Swim.


12:56 - "Senator, I direct your attention to this damning Flash animation dated March 3, 1971..."
http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=12526_Bush_Guard_Documents-_Forged

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Boston Globe, CBS, you goddamn putzes.

You call yourselves "journalists".
Wednesday, September 8, 2004
02:46 - Cola Wars '04

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Now, I'm not prepared to make a taste judgment on Coke vs. Pepsi. I've got my own preference, but growing up in the 80s taught me that while Democrats vs. Republicans and Macs vs. PCs might be perfectly reasonable and enjoyable topics for discussion, Coke vs. Pepsi is well beyond the pale for polite conversation.

But I'd just like to note something about the current "half-diet" cola race. Pepsi has Pepsi Edge, and Coke has C2—essentially the same thing, regular cola with half regular sugar and half Splenda. Cool, fine; you get to market it as having half the bad stuff and all the taste of the real thing, and it's totally legit. Perfectly above board.

But look at the two ad campaigns. Coke is marketing C2 as being "half the carbs, half the cals, all the taste" of Coke Classic; the ads show people dancing around and being athletic and having fun. They compare the new product to the original Coke (a tacit disparagement of Diet Coke if I've ever seen one, but that's an aside), and don't even mention Pepsi.

Whereas the Pepsi ad shows a guy with a house full of Coke paraphernalia and collectibles—an irrational zealot—"cheating" on his chosen cola by drinking a Pepsi Edge. And the voice-over says that Pepsi Edge has half the sugar and carbs of Coke.

Not of Pepsi. Of Coke.

Once again, I'm making no value judgments about the relative tastes of these drinks. But one of these ads, it seems to me, is taking a teensy bit of a dishonest tack here.


18:40 - It had to be said

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I didn't even watch the second episode of Father of the Pride; I figured I'd learn everything I needed to know about it from friends within five minutes of it being over anyway, and I was right. As for reaction, I'm hearing quite positive and quite negative, plus everything in between. In other words, the jury's still quite far out.

Now, I know it's silly for me to keep posting about something I don't have that much interest in, but I just have to say something to Siegfried and Roy:

Lose that ridiculous name Sarmoti. Just... drop it. Yes, yes, I get it—it's your little acronym for your show; very cute. But I've seen your show, live... and endlessly braying this nonce word, and using it as a character name in property after property after property, does not magically serve to turn it into a hip cultural meme that kids shout to each other across the schoolyard and get embroidered into their backpacks. It's just not gonna happen. Give it a frickin' rest, all right?

Gyeesh.


17:47 - That's what I'm talkin' 'bout
http://www.opinioneditorials.com/freedomwriters/bstock_20040902.html

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Via B.C.:

On July 29, 2004, it happened. John Forbes Kerry came to the podium at the Democratic Convention and uttered three words that made many Viet Nam vets skin crawl: “Reporting for Duty!” At last the time had come for these long-suffering veterans.

The past was staring back at these wrongly disgraced vets from their television sets. The face it bore was that of John Kerry, the man who had shredded their honor without a thought and climbed over the bodies of their fallen friends to launch a political career. Kerry had stripped them of their dignity the day he sat before Congress in his fatigues and portrayed them as “baby killers” and “murderers.” Kerry did the unspeakable. He had publicly turned on his fellow vets while they were still in harm’s way and American prisoners were still in the hands of the enemy. Kerry accused them all of being out-of-control animals, killing, raping, and pillaging Viet Nam at will. The anti-war movement--the protesters--had their hero and he was a Viet Nam War veteran, an officer, a medal winner, a wounded warrior: John Forbes Kerry.

. . .

All across America, soiled uniforms and memories of being shamed and humiliated have resurfaced and Vietnam vets demand their rightful place in history. John Kerry seems bewildered by the reaction of his “fellow vets.” He has become defensive and angry because now his service and honor are being questioned. Kerry seems oblivious to the pain he caused three decades ago when he stole all honor and dignity from those same “fellow vets” for personal gain. Now he wants to use them again, for the same reason.

All across America, Viet Nam vets are smiling. At last, perhaps they can bury their demons. These angry vets are demanding that this man who sentenced them to being shunned as criminals, tell the world that he was wrong and that he is sorry for what he did to them. Kerry must admit that he lied about them.

For many, it would still not be enough. Satisfaction and hopefully peace will come when Viet Nam vets see and hear John F. Kerry give his concession speech the night of November 2, 2004 with the knowledge that it was their votes that helped defeat him. There are approximately 2.5 million Viet Nam veterans in America and they have not forgotten.

Kerry might serve an invaluable purpose to history after all.


13:15 - Now do it without looking
http://www.voanews.com/article.cfm?objectID=0BBD9B6E-029F-4215-BED81FACC63EF81F&titl

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While the Kerry campaign runs around in circles devouring its own and contradicting itself and throwing bigoted tantrums and covering its tracks, it seems all Bush has to do to gain points in the polls is sit back and ignore the campaign entirely, because if he gets too close all he'll end up doing is getting his hands muddy. But, y'know, sometimes you just can't help yourself... if the ball is at thigh level and just floating in firm and straight, how can you not take a swing?

"When the heat got on in the Democratic primary, he declared himself the anti-war candidate. More recently, he switched again, saying he would have voted for the war even knowing everything we know today. And he woke up yesterday morning with yet another new position. And this one is not even his own. It is that of his one-time rival, Howard Dean. He even used the same words Howard Dean did back when he supposedly disagreed with him."

Talk about bringing a gun to a slap-fight.

Now if only he can do stuff like this in the debates, where the remarks aren't prepared in advance...

Tuesday, September 7, 2004
18:38 - Don't tell me they're losing SA
http://www.somethingawful.com/articles.php?a=2362

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SomethingAwful's Lowtax is mad... and he's fun to read when he's mad.

It's very refreshing, too. I love the smell of backlash in the morning.


15:24 - Prank Politician

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First (well, not first, but less recently) there was this, the page where the Kerry campaign helpfully listed all of Bush's accomplishments, with a tacit and unspoken disclaimer that they forgot to include that presumably would have said that they were all lies (including such gems as "John Kerry is Weak on the War" and "Bush Good for Immigrants"), except that instead of bothering to write such a disclaimer, they eventually deleted the page. Sort of. Or not. Who the hell knows.

And then there's this:

"Everybody told me, 'God, if you're coming to Canonsburg, you've got to find time to go to Toy's, and he'll take care of you,'" Mr. Kerry said, dropping the name of a restaurant his motorcade had passed on the way in. "I understand it's my kind of place, because you don't have to - you know, when they give you the menu, I'm always struggling: Ah, what do you want?

"He just gives you what he's got, right?" Mr. Kerry added, continuing steadily off a gangplank of his own making: "And you don't have to worry, it's whatever he's cooked up that day. And I think that's the way it ought to work, for confused people like me who can't make up our minds."

Reynolds says, "Is there anyone running this campaign?" I've been suspecting, for some time now, that this isn't a campaign at all. It's an Ivy League frat party. It's a self-congratulatory bunch of mutual back-slappers who are so convinced they deserve to win the Presidency that none of them has even given any thought to the notion that anyone might need to be convinced of it. It's like a guy with a physics degree applying for a job at Barnes & Noble: "What do you mean, I don't have the qualifications? Haven't you seen my credentials?"

I'd always been under the impression that Presidential campaigns, more so than just about any marketing or PR genre on the planet, were so carefully and spotlessly run, and the candidate so well-rehearsed and groomed and prepped with can't-miss material, that you expected that whichever candidate won, you'd be getting a package as shiny and smoothy shrink-wrapped as to put a Mac box to shame. By comparison, Kerry's looking like a six-year-old Pentium II machine cobbled together from nameless generic junk you found in your garage. Not pretty, but without any substance to redeem its appearance either. If I had to put a name on it, I'd say that Kerry seems to have built himself up with self-aggrandizing fantasy and cadres of sycophants to the point where if things don't go his way, he's too utterly floored by the very possibility that he freezes up and babbles. We already know that he assumed the media wouldn't allow the Swift Vets to score any points against him, so he was staggered when they did; now that his defenses are thrown wide, he's running out of people to blame for these failures, which seem to be coming closer and closer together.

This is just historically inept. Hell, Perot embarrassed himself less often. If I were a Kerry supporter, I'd be so mortified right now I'd be taking down all my bumper stickers and yard signs and planning a nice, long vacation on some island somewhere so I wouldn't have to face my neighbors' stares until all this had blown over.

UPDATE: The man is really beginning to make me nauseous.

The betrayed ghosts of Vietnam are restless and hungry, and this whole election and all its bile might prove to be worth it if by Kerry's sacrifice they can be laid peacefully to rest at last.

UPDATE: Oh, and let's not forget this gem. If Kerry thinks making fun of Southern accents is the way to campaign, John Edwards might not even vote for him.

You know how a twelve-year-old who knows he's in the wrong will "defend" against his opponent by mimicking his speech in a nasal, high-pitched, Cartman-like voice? "You said I could have it this weekend!" "Yyw syyyw yyy haayy yyy wwwkwnd!" Isn't that all that Kerry's defense has turned out to amount to? I mean, how stupefyingly juvenile can you get?


13:04 - How I Spent My Labor Day

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This was a momentous crisscrossing of ley lines on the calendar, because finally—at long last—I've made some headway in getting my custom master suite under control.



These bookshelves are second-hand, bought from a couple of friends who have a mansion in Scotts Valley—seriously, I think their house is too damn big for these shelves or something. But they're very serviceable; quite heavy-duty, attractive, and modular. I can expand them with gear from the Organized Living store at the Valley Fair mall, and I think I'll be doing just that later today, to get a couple more of those short shelves for the stack on the left. I may also see if they have this set in waist-high varieties, so I can add another unit along the arch wall.

When all this is done, I'll have organized all my shelvable goods such that the attractive stuff—large hardcovers, boxed sets, encyclopedias, etc—will be out here on these shelves, with lots of space around them set off by nice bookends that I need to go track down; and the less picturesque stuff, like the software boxes, will go into seclusion in the better hidden bookshelves in my bedroom.

And this is really only the first step of the dressing for this wall. I fancy one of these for the TV to sit on, instead of this too-tall table with all its useless space underneath; that'll bring it down by eight inches and let me make still better use of the shelf space above. And this matching armoire will sit off to the right, solving my clothes-storage problems quite attractively. But that's a $450 outlay all told, and I can wait till next month before plunging. Right now I'm still reveling in the uncommon joy of not having piles of books and boxes and CDs and other assorted crap covering every square inch of carpet in the north side of the room. I can walk around the couch on all sides now! I can sit on the floor! Capri can sprawl in front of the TV, instead of wedging himself between the coffee table and the chair I'm sitting in! Woo-hoo!

I think it's serendipitous how well the stereo unit fits on that shelf, too, don't you? I am so very very happy.

Monday, September 6, 2004
03:24 - I've worked myself into a nice little rut here
http://chrenkoff.blogspot.com/2004/09/all-in-same-eu-boat-part-6.html

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Several acquaintances have mentioned that they might move to Europe if the November elections should go a way they don't approve of; it's so much more "progressive" there, don'tcha know. It's all about the progress. Now crank up that Progressive Rock and pour me a Progress Cola.

They'll find themselves in a paradise where their toilets verbally admonish them to observe proper hygiene practices and castigate them for peeing standing up; and where words like "thin" and "hard-working" are banned from dictionaries because they discriminate against lazy people and mock the underweight.

Some days, to overanalyze the old joke, I'll take Congress over progress in a heartbeat.

UPDATE: And it's from the land of nuance that we get things like this. This must be some of that "humor" stuff that I've heard so much about.

But, hey, I console myself with the knowledge that I know more about the etymological history of the word aluminum than he does.

Sunday, September 5, 2004
18:16 - Just a note on multiculturalism
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,176-1247801,00.html

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Via LGF, this one's worth reading.

But it's just an excuse for me to note: when I was in Toronto, the guy driving me to the airport on the last day (in a conversation where I talked about my 1991 trip to Russia, where the only language that we and our host family shared was Spanish, between me and their oldest daughter, making me the interpreter) issued a curious statement:

"My workplace," he said, "is so diverse that I can walk from one end of the office to the other and hear English, French, Hindi, Gujarat, Arabic .... and I'm like, all I speak is English! It's the only way we can communicate... I suck!"

And what I didn't say was: No, you don't suck. If you were, say, to move to another country where you didn't speak the prevailing language, and you didn't bother to LEARN the prevailing language, THEN you would suck.

Maybe I was in a weird mood after being heckled on the sidewalk by Arabic-speaking youths on the way back to my host's apartment, leading to dreams that night wherein old acquaintances of mine had turned out to have converted to Islam and joined al Qaeda, and were now waylaying travelers in mountain passes and mimicking their speech and mocking their clothes from horseback.

Or maybe I shouldn't let strange dreams affect my waking thoughts.

UPDATE: And for God's sake, the word is spelled HAMSTER, not HAMPSTER! Aarrgh! Not even Disney can grasp this. What is so hard about this?!

Damn kids! Get offa my lawn!


17:46 - The sky is green, and all the leaves are blue

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It's easy to see how people get so they don't want to watch TV anymore. Sometimes it gets so that you can't even turn it on without feeling like you're peering into a freakshow, a Stargate to another dimension where everybody behaves according to the most cultured illogic imaginable, like Kirk in that one old Star Trek episode where he and Spock and McCoy foiled the evil robot of the Ron Jeremy villain by dancing around acting as incomprehensibly as possible until its head exploded.

I bring up Star Trek because two nights ago, in the wee hours, an episode came on that I can't imagine anyone even pitching today: The Omega Glory. If you're not familiar with it, just read the synopsis and think about how hard they'd laugh at you if you tried to submit this script in Hollywood today. Imagine what kind of world it must have been in 1968: one where intoning the preamble of the Constitution in a sci-fi show wasn't part of an irony-filled parody of McCarthyism or an indictment of American propaganda as being worse than anything the Stalinist state ever dreamed up. Imagine it being sincere.

For that matter, imagine an age where a utopian idealist like Roddenberry, committed to the idea of the abolishment of money and personal property and national identity, nonetheless produced this episode, which ends with Kirk smiling and exiting as the camera fades out over the faded and tattered Stars and Stripes. It's so cheesy and overdone it's distinctly embarrassing to watch, even for me; how did audiences react to it? I can't even begin to guess, as the concept of a world where a show like this can even be broadcast is utterly alien to my modern eyes. Nothing would surprise me.

Because flipping around the channels, I keep landing on things like Jay Mohr finishing up "Last Comic Standing" with a monologue about how "We'll be back after the Republican convention... yeah, those wacky Republicans..." to raucous catcalls from the audience; and other comics taking the stage to issue tired routines about how Bush stole the election by rigging the polls in Florida with the help of his brother, which elicits deafening cheers from the audience. Now, I know all too well that it's possible to laugh at a funny joke even if you disagree wholeheartedly with the logic underlying its premise. But have I completely lost my ability to find things like that funny? Or is it just that I'm too bowled over by the idea of whole roomfuls of people who see nothing wrong with the comedian's reasoning, and too frightened by that prospect, to toss it off with a giggle?

I wasn't quick enough to the remote on Friday, and the first few seconds of The Daily Show blared behind me before I had a chance to turn it off. Jon Stewart and his comic troupe of reporters were covering the convention, and the first thing they sneered about was how tight the security was—"which shows you just how dangerous they thought WE WERE." Which is such an insultingly disingenuous piece of misleading language as to make me want to claw my eyes out: which convention was it that put all its protesters into a razor-wire-topped "Free Speech Zone" cage? And which one let the protesters run amok in the city? And which convention's protesters mobbed the downtown of the city all week long, causing vandalism and violent attacks and kidnapping flags (and planning much worse, like barrages of urine bombs and throwing marbles under the hooves of mounted cops' horses) until they had to be arrested by the scores, not to mention infiltrating the actual convention to be repeatedly within weapons range of the speakers? "There was a distinct feeling of fear in the air at this convention..." said the reporter, flashing a shot of a big projection screen saying FOR A SAFER AMERICA AND A FREER WORLD or something. And I wonder, just what kind of cataclysm would it take before our lionized and implicitly trusted comedy organs should start to suggest that maybe, just maybe, it's possible to be funny without cramming reality through a garlic press first? That it's possible to entertain without lying? When our first national impulse is to see the word FREE and read it as FEAR, hasn't the spirit of this country become completely obscured and banished from polite discourse? And shouldn't something be done about that?

I mean, just flipping on the radio is fraught with peril these days. I stepped into Lance's car to go get lunch because my own car was boxed in; he has KCBS running, and the only times I hear it are occasions like this. But I can't listen to five minutes of KCBS without hearing something that makes me furious. Last time it was the uncritical, ten-minute long promotion of Fahrenheit 9/11 put on by the on-scene reporters interviewing exiting moviegoers. And this time it was some guy from the "Progressive Democrats of America" (anyone wanna bet his favorite band is Rush?), responding to Henry Kissinger's remarks about the War on Terror by saying that "The way to make America safer is to make friends, not to make new enemies." I wanted to slam on the brakes and scream at the radio: So what you're saying is, we should have made FRIENDS with Saddam? We should be making FRIENDS with Bin Laden? Since when the %^&$ was Iraq a NEW enemy?! ... Not that it would do any good, of course. Just as it would do no good to shout at the author of this cartoon and ask him exactly how it's possible to be neither "with us or with the terrorists". But that's futility in its most distilled form, since we're talking about someone who can make Bush look like some kind of mutant rodent and Kerry resemble a square-jawed superhero, replete with halo and beatific grin.

Maybe I'm doing something to attract things to my senses that infuriate me. Maybe I've got some sort of magnetic field that starts right outside arm's reach that pulls freaky things into view, shows them to me just long enough to make me mad, and then clears them off and makes room for the next one. I really don't know. But if the alternative is sealing myself off in a little box, only to emerge for November 2nd and then re-ensconce myself like a groundhog, I'm not convinced that it's a worse choice. At least as far as my mental health is concerned.

Friday, September 3, 2004
15:56 - I did not use Capri as the model
http://www.imao.us/archives/001877.html

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Frank J. has unveiled the new Chomps t-shirt, with design by yours truly.

Also be sure to look here, here, and here, as Frank chronicles the journey of a dozen sketches that led to the final Chomps. His recollection of the politeness level of the exchange is very much in the "fevered" category, though now in retrospect I wish I'd sent him one joke sketch of, like, a French poodle yapping or something, right about at #10 or so. Ah well.

Best of luck to Frank as the marauding hurricane seeks for his hidden underground base.


13:46 - Now that that's over...

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I didn't see Bush's speech live, but here's the transcript, and CapLion and Stephen Green (among others) liveblogged it. Sounds like it was a pretty good one, with some really choice moments (Bush winking at a protester being dragged out of the hall? Jokes about his own walking and speaking abilities?); I'll have to catch the video tonight.

Then apparently Kerry came on stage somewhere at midnight to issue this oh-so-measured response:

"We all saw the anger and distortion of the Republican Convention. For the past week, they attacked my patriotism and my fitness to serve as commander in chief. Well, here's my answer. I'm not going to have my commitment to defend this country questioned by those who refused to serve when they could have and by those who have misled the nation into Iraq.

The vice president even called me unfit for office last night. I guess I'll leave it up to the voters whether five deferments makes someone more qualified to defend this nation than two tours of duty.

Let me tell you what I think makes someone unfit for duty. Misleading our nation into war in Iraq makes you unfit to lead this nation. Doing nothing while this nation loses millions of jobs makes you unfit to lead this nation. Letting 45 million Americans go without health care makes you unfit to lead this nation. Letting the Saudi royal family control our energy costs makes you unfit to lead this nation. Handing out billions of government contracts to Halliburton while you're still on their payroll makes you unfit. That's the record of George Bush and Dick Cheney. And it's not going to change. I believe it's time to move America in a new direction; I believe it's time to set a new course for America."

So let's see here: Kerry's already said that he himself would have gone into Iraq if the decision had been his; I guess he's saying he's just as unfit to lead as Bush, huh? Brilliant move. Does Kerry have ADD or something? How can he contradict everything he says so breezily, so regularly? Does he maybe just honestly not remember what he himself said?

Cheney's four student deferments make him unfit to defend the nation. Or maybe it was the one he got because he'd just become a father. Got it. And Bush was only in the National Guard; he didn't actually blow himself up throwing a grenade into a rice stash or get a thumbtack in his ass or anything medalworthy like that. From now on, only people who fought in Vietnam are capable of making military decisions for this country. Right, Clinton?

And from there one just has to wonder whether Kerry actually researched any of the barbs he flung at midnight, or if he knows full well that he's being disingenuous, but trusts the American people to be too stupid and the news media to be too biased for him ever to get called on it. For instance, Kerry must understand that Cheney is not on Halliburton's payroll; he has deferred compensation, on terms that were laid out at the plan's inception such that the amount he gets paid cannot change regardless of Halliburton's corporate fortunes; and on top of that, he gives all his deferred compensation income to charity. Does Kerry not know this? Or does he just hope people will blindly believe him without looking up the facts?

Facts, Mr. Kerry, appear to be your enemy. Holy damn, though—you need to listen to your handlers once in a while.

Everybody has weighed in on Kerry's little diatribe, focusing on one point and another: Ann Althouse finds it disturbing that Kerry's response to questions about his leadership abilities is to say that he will not have any such questions. Boy, that sounds like a guy I want to have accountable for running the country. And "pouncer" in Stephen Green's comments points out the idiocy of conflating "health care" with "health insurance", as well as of suggesting that anyone who doesn't stand up to the Saudis on oil matters is unfit to be President—which includes everybody who's been in office since OPEC was formed. But Kerry doesn't have to come out and say, somehow, that his presidency would "put the Saudis in their place", or whatever we're to assume the alternative is. It's sufficient, apparently for the New York Times and the rest of the media machine, for him to say things like "People die of cancer" and "Not everybody on the planet is happy", and everybody just implicitly understands that the only thing standing in the way of unspoken, ineffable solutions to those things is that John Kerry is not President yet.

Is there anything he said last night that wasn't a stupid, easily deflated conspiracy-theory-ridden canard? If that's what Kerry's running on now, I've got another word for it: fumes.

Oh, but MoveOn.org has already proclaimed, shockingly enough, that Bush's speech was a failure and Kerry's was a hard-hitting masterpiece:

Republicans hoped that their convention would strike a ringing tone that would echo through the media for the next week. But between the speakers' nastiness and belligerence, John Kerry's swift and tough response, and our hard work, the momentum they're banking on is nowhere to be seen.

At a midnight rally last night, John Kerry stood up to Bush's attacks. "For the past week, they attacked my patriotism and even my fitness to serve as commander in chief," he said. "Here is my answer to them: I will not have my commitment to defend this country questioned by those who refused to serve when they could have and who misled America into Iraq."[1]

Now that the convention bubble has burst, we have an opportunity today to focus the media on the soap scum that remains. Commentators have been surprised at how ruthlessly negative and bitter the convention was - from the Purple Heart band-aids that Karl Rove's mentor handed out on the stadium floor [2] to Zell Miller's rabid attack on John Kerry [3]. Whether or not that perception solidifies into conventional wisdom depends on the conversation in the nation's editorial pages, where our letters to the editor can make a big difference. We've loaded up our letter to the editor tool with all the information and talking points you need to write a letter -- all it takes is a few minutes of your time.

"Letter to the editor tool". Could it be any more perfect? I'm gonna go call someone that right now.

UPDATE: Oh, and eat this, MoveOn.org.

Wednesday, September 1, 2004
13:31 - That's what I get for not watching the news
http://opinion.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2004/09/01/do0102.xml

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JMH sends this Telegraph editorial by former Vietnam protester Janet Daley, titled "In the 1960s, we marched for a reason":

But the biggest difference between then and now, of course, is that we marched against our government when it supported dictators, not when it removed them. The logic of the anti-Vietnam War movement was that America, in its ferocious determination to hold back the spread of communism, was prepared to back the tyrannical Diem regime in South Vietnam even to the extent of thwarting democratic elections when they threatened to put communists into power.

Our complaint was that America's foreign policy was deeply hypocritical and self-serving: committed unswervingly to democracy and liberty at home, while supporting any murderous despot abroad who was prepared to be "our son of a bitch" rather than the other side's. The ultimate paradox is that the country that still behaves in this way - prepared to do business with pretty much any murderous regime or criminal dictator who will cater to its interests - is France: the nation that today's anti-war protesters regard as the epitome of wisdom and restraint.

But the "warmonger" Bush, supported by the "liar" Blair, is doing precisely the opposite in Iraq, where a peculiarly vicious tyrant has been overthrown and subsequently arrested with due legal process, in the hope - idealistic and even naïve, perhaps, but unquestionably sincere - of introducing democracy and freedom to his country.

She also describes the televised back-and-forth between John McCain and Michael Moore thus:

I watched Michael Moore's buffoon-ish reaction when he was attacked by John McCain at the Republican convention, over and over again yesterday.

Fox News showed it repeatedly, probably figuring that the sight of Moore behaving like a snotty 10-year-old defying the headmaster was the best gift the anti-war movement had presented to George W Bush since Howard Dean's "I Have a Scream" speech. (The BBC, which also ran it time after time, was presumably just overcome with admiration.)

And as I watched this puerile performance from a man who is regarded as the spiritual leader of American, and now British, conscientious protest, I thought "Has it come to this?" Is this how it ends, the great modern tradition of American dissidence launched by my generation of students in the 1960s?

I'd love to know what gestures Moore offered the camera (though I suppose I can guess). Time for me to do some Googling...

Tuesday, August 31, 2004
01:47 - Happy thoughts

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After one thing and another, and the post from Monday night, and reading the work of the true master (start there and read the whole week—it's prime cuts), I've come to the conclusion that I'm rapidly sliding down a slippery slope of negativity, where to read these posts here, one would easily be forgiven for thinking that I hated everything except for Macs and Capri. So I'm gonna have to do something about that.

I don't know what, though. I imagine it'll have something to do with trying harder to find things to be happy about, like when I used to write about clouds and architecture and stuff. I guess that won't be too hard, right? My memory's not that truncated.

Or so we'll see. And for the record, I'd like to say that the Monday post notwithstanding, my vacation totally rocked. Seriously. And it's worth mentioning, though I had avoided it for fear of committing some grievous national-security faux pas, that I shared a cabin with a guy serving in the Army unit in charge of Camp Delta at Guantánamo Bay. He had some stories to tell, mostly to do with how ridiculously lacking in fact or reality the media's stories about life at Gitmo have all been. I think he may have disseminated a bit of sanity and wisdom through osmosis, too. And I hope we conveyed plenty of appreciation to him, as much as I hope he had a good and restful vacation before he ships back to his post there as soon as he gets home.

So, yeah. Sorry about the last few weeks, everybody. I'm gonna do better.

Saturday, August 21, 2004
09:13 - Back into the all-concealing shadows I go

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Reminder: I'm on vacation until 8/30. For real this time.

Friday, August 20, 2004
16:38 - Is Kerry still here?

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It's been interesting getting caught up on the Kerry campaign goings-on in the three days I was gone. I got an e-mail from MoveOn.org lambasting Bush for "not condemning the Swift Vets ad while he himself had been absent from service during a period of his National Guard years" or some such. To the best of my recollection, Bush never even said anything definitive about the "AWOL" accusations; he just released some pay stubs and let the issue play out. But now all the accusations against him are taunts trying to get him to talk about issues that he has no reason to talk about, and which if he were to talk about them would likely deflate all the premises upon which the accusations are founded. MoveOn.org and its like have convinced themselves that Bush's National Guard service is just as important as Kerry's Vietnam tour, even though Bush has never even mentioned it as a campaign point and Kerry's done nothing but talk about Vietnam; now they're calling Bush a hypocrite for "attacking" Kerry (by saying nothing), which he isn't, on grounds that he himself "claims an advantage on" (military service), which he doesn't.

My guess is, Bush is just watching Kerry's tour schedule so he can be sure he's outside the minimum safe distance when Kerry finally goes nova.

When I get back home again ten days from now, I'm sure I'll have a lot to digest.


16:10 - Modern art
http://www.reason.com/0408/bagge.shtml

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Wow.

Don't nobody miss Peter Bagge's homage to Modern Art.

I have a feeling I'll be forwarding this URL to a lot of people...


13:46 - Odds and ends

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I just gotta say: the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport has got to be right at the top of the list of Most Excellent Airports that I've seen.

It's just opened what can only be described as a mall inside an airport; it's called "Northstar Crossing", and the usual concourse direction signs all but vanish amongst the brightly-lit stimuli of a familiar mall interior, featuring all the usual name stores from T.G.I. Fridays to Starbucks to full-featured bookstores. The main food court has a long, long plate glass window that faces onto the sunset, and we happened to be there just as the sun was setting; it streamed in over hundreds of happy diners and glinted off a stone waterfall on the back wall, under icons of the four seasons. I got a pre-wrapped deli sandwich that may as well have been marketed as a Caprese salad on focaccia; grilled chicken with fresh sliced mozzarella and ripe tomato and some leafy greens. All it needed was kalamata olives and some sundried tomatoes, and there you are...

The main concourse, too, was full of hip restaurants and lined with moving walkways as well as a tram that shuttled the length of the wing of the airport; just outside our gate there was a kids' play area, an interactive online demonstration of ethanol fuel, and an automat-like Bose Wave Radio demo kiosk, which not only let you test-drive the omnipresent device—but you could put in your credit card, which would unlock one of the doors in the display so you could take home your own unit.

That's right: you can now buy consumer electronics from vending machines. How's that for progress, huh?


Anyway: there's a great deal to be said, as I've increasingly come to suspect, for the small-town Midwestern life. People are born, live, work, marry, raise kids, grow old, and die in towns like Litchfield, Illinois not because they're stupid or provincial, but because they know they've got something good going on right there; traveling the world doesn't shake that conviction, it only reinforces a wisdom that those of us who leap impetuously into the urban unknown often lack. Sure, we might end up writing web browsers or becoming movie stars; but is that really any different an impact on the world, or more positive, than starting a ramifying family that spreads out from coast to coast, yet comes back home to Litchfield once all has been said and done?

Some of us bohemian intellectuals will consider it unfortunate that the much-celebrated sense of community present in these small towns is religious in nature. Whole towns, they'll sniff, full of people caught up in a mass delusion that lasts them their whole lives. Well, call it that if it makes it seem less threatening or more palatable, I suppose, or if you really enjoy finding reasons to look down on people. But seeing roomfuls of octogenarians all of whom know my name and whole life history, and "Ladies' Auxiliaries" producing tablefuls of food and desserts so that the family at the center of everything hardly has to take care of a thing, leaves one wondering exactly what some people's problem is. At least every one of these folks knows how to read sheet music, thanks to the hymnals. At least the kids learn how to be quiet and pay attention, without the aid of Ritalin. And at least it takes place in a nice air-conditioned building. What other function could draw so many people together for so many years, making everybody's kids into the kids of the entire town? If it takes a village to raise a child, it sure as heck doesn't take a suburb.


And I suppose I should mention that halfway between Litchfield and St. Louis, there's a very tall FREEDOM IS NOT FREE — VOTE BUSH 2004 billboard, and the landscape is dotted with barns painted with huge flags and slogans. Whatever motives or justifications one might ascribe to those who put these things up, I think—I think—that I do in fact prefer it to this:



That's the flag that appeared shortly after 9/11 on the hillside in the Sunol Grade summit on I-680, northeast of Fremont in the East Bay. It's quite inaccessible; someone would have had to drive down from Berkeley or wherever, get off at Vargas or Sheridan Road, trek up onto the hillside, climb a couple of fences, and do this. It takes a certain amount of dedication and self-assurance that what they're doing is right.

And it's been like this, in view of millions of motorists, without being cleaned up, for... how long?

This wouldn't happen in some parts of the country.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004
09:48 - Family Matters

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And because it does, I'm going to be away from net access for the next three days, until Thursday night.

And after that begins my actual vacation, which lasts until 8/30. So I wouldn't expect too many entries until that day, if I were you.

I could use the sleep anyway...

Monday, August 16, 2004
15:22 - Credit where it's due

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I've got friends (or, more accurately, friends of friends) who refuse to read any items from National Review Online, when directed there in an argument. After all, everybody knows how biased that site is—it's a freaky right-wing warmongers' magazine, right?

Funny, then, that Byron York of NRO has taken it upon himself to debunk the latest attack on John Kerry's credibility, the one about David Alston not serving with Kerry on his boat. Seems he did after all, if briefly. And York's article, while bringing up still more details that could stand clarification, is a model of what journalism is supposed to be: facts that answer questions, with editorializing kept to a bare minimum. Pretty good for an editorial.

Those wily wingnuts. What nefarious scheme will they come up with next?

Meanwhile, MoveOn.org is sending out frantic e-mails urging members to call on President Bush to denounce the Swift Vets' ad. It describes the ad as a vicious piece of slander, quotes a few of the vets' lines, and then demands that it be removed from the public eye.

Not a word, of course, to counter whether the vets' claims might be true. None are needed.

Friday, August 13, 2004
17:00 - Sick juxtapositions
http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/mld/myrtlebeachonline/news/nation/9389287.htm

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In this story linked by Glenn, I just couldn't help but notice this:



Oh, yeah, put me down for a gross.

Do you take payment in oil?


16:17 - That's what happens when you get your memory from Sears — Sears
http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/002242.php

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Boy. if this one turns out to be true ....

Hmm.

Sooner or later, the people who have decided to vote against Bush because they believe he has an honesty problem are going to have to come to grips with a demonstrably worse alternative.


15:37 - Shows work, needs thought
http://www.americanthinker.com/articles.php?article_id=3746

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Actually this article does bring up a pretty good discussion, and does so in a well-argued way. It's all about enfranchisement, really, and whether now that we've done away with barriers to voting such as sex and race (and, if some people get their way, age, citizenship status, criminal history, and species), we should think about instituting a few subjective criteria to narrow down who should be allowed to make political decisions in this democracy.

Namely, that people who are too apathetic to vote shouldn't be allowed to.

A pretty incendiary thought, but at least the author's got some reasoning behind it. He says that the "Rock the Vote"-style ad campaigns currently running on MTV and Comedy Central (which I mentioned last night) are playing a dangerous game with a delicate balance: they're appealing to the uninformed to convince them to vote like they're informed.

You know, this all begs an interesting question: what does it tell you about a group’s agenda and ideas if it thinks that it has a vested interest in getting out the idiot vote?  That’s just a little food for thought for those whose drive to vote originates from within.  But remember, if someone doesn’t want to vote, it’s probably for a very good reason. And, most of all, remember that when the wrong people choose, we all lose.

I disagree with this for a number of reasons, foremost among which is that, hey, I watch Comedy Central, thankyouverymuch, and so—I imagine—do a lot of people who would likely qualify as "informed". The audience selection criteria for ads on cable channels are not limited to "gullible idiots". Furthermore, acting as though they are betrays—or rather confirms—an elitism that the author is quite explicit in admitting. If being able to do a quadratic equation or explain the electoral college is to be a prerequisite for voter registration, we'll be selecting for the segment of voters who are either snooty academics in a moral miasma, or total political cranks—and disenfranchising anyone who votes on their heart's impulse, which is not altogether a bad thing.

However, that said—check out Stephen Green's response, and the addenda by his commenters. I don't agree with all of them either, but... they sure are worth a cathartic chuckle or two.


13:24 - That's the best you can do?
https://www.moveonpac.org/donate/switchad_winners.html

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You have got to be kidding me. This is the winner of MoveOn.org's contest to solicit anti-Bush ads?

Ads, I might add, that are apparently intended to parody Apple's "Switch" campaign (which has now been consigned to the dustbin of marketing history)?



You know, this throws a lot of suspicion on the authenticity of the "Real People" in Apple's ads... because they were all quite poised in front of the camera, with dynamic voices, good enunciation, and well-organized thoughts.

What the hell's this guy's problem?

There can be no doubt that he's a "real person", because he's nervous as all hell, he speaks in a monotone, and what he obviously thinks is a devastating tale of political malfeasance reads like the mutterings of Milton from Office Space.

It's so bad at making its point that the ad almost serves as a satire of war opponents. "W-w-we were told there there were all these weaponsofmassdestruction! But w-where are they? We looked all over! They weren't there! It's-it-it was all a lie!"

Guy sounds so unsure of himself that five minutes in a coffeeshop with a laptop ought to be sufficient for a concerned friend to help him debunk whatever canards like this one that he twitchily believes. Yet, somehow, this story appealed enough to MoveOn.org to make it their pick of the litter.

At this late stage in the debate, can MoveOn.org honestly still not comprehend what the war was all about, or appreciate the irony of millions of Iraqis too busy enjoying their newfound freedom to give a rat's left asscheek about whether we found weaponsofmassdestruction or not? Or in light of John Kerry's admission that were he President, he would have gone into Iraq too, even if he'd known that no weaponsofmassdestruction would be found, realize that believing that Saddam posed a threat to the world's peace and security was not a lie, but at worst an overreliance on faulty intelligence data by all the world's leaders dating back through Clinton?

They can't be that dense. They have to understand the logical fallacies in what they're peddling. No human could be this relentlessly stupid. Even as part of a large online group.

They have to instead be cynically trying to manipulate what they see as the intellectual weakness of the gullible American public; if they just harp on the word "lie" often enough, eventually no amount of proof positive will dissipate it. It's a rule that Lenin and Stalin and Goebbels knew all too well, because after all, it does work.

Dean says:

As I watched it I thought, "I can't believe they're that stupid." My friend John of Weekend Pundit chuckled and said, "but they are. It's because they firmly believe most of America feels as they do." I laughed nervously, but I had to wonder if he wasn't right.


Can my faith that the American people won't be so easily duped be enough to justify my not undergoing a severe nervous meltdown between now and November? I sure hope so.

Thursday, August 12, 2004
23:51 - Did they just say what I think they said?

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So Comedy Central is running various "register to vote" ads whose purpose is painfully transparent (they didn't, after all, do this in 2000). But one of them is just a tiny bit unsettling...

It's got South Park clips in the background. The narrator says: It may take a village to raise a child... but it takes a small mountain town to raise a President! —And Cartman, dressed as Hitler, yells "Forward march!" and leads the townspeople in an angry mob down the street toward the camera.

Go to ComedyCentral.com and choose your dictator—er, president.

Um... yeah, whatever you say...


12:03 - What he really wants to do is direct
http://instapundit.com/archives/017139.php

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Does this count as "Kerry Derangement Syndrome"? Is making this big a deal out of what's becoming clear is a baldfaced, premeditated lie with great repercussions the equivalent of going into hysterics over Bush's National Guard record or accusing him of "lying" about Iraq's WMDs?

I've seen people lately acting horrified that there are intelligent and thoughtful bloggers "taking the Swift Vets seriously". As though their very nature as an "attack" group renders their cause laughworthy.

Well, so far it looks like they're batting better than .500, and Kerry can't seem to come up with a rational or coherent defense.

Looks like that American Spectator blurb from a couple of days ago was accurate: beyond Fox News, the press is in full cover-up mode for Kerry on this one.

Yo, Media: Your candidate has apparently lied, repeatedly, over the last 30 years. He did so to embellish his credentials, and in the pursuit of various political ends. His campaign is putting out false spin that doesn't pass the laugh test. Does this say anything at all about his fitness for higher office?

(Will Collier)

The Jon Stewarts of the world will now say, "Well, okay, sure, he lied—but hey, you've got a lot of nerve, saying his lies make him unfit to lead, while you make excuses for or ignore Bush's much worse lies!" Pause for laughter and applause.

Well, let's leave aside for a moment the relative veracity of the "lie" claims for both men, and the relative seriousness of each. This argument is shining a spotlight on whether we want to claim the moral high ground by not "stooping to the same level" as the Bush-haters. It's about deciding what character flaws are acceptable and ignorable, and what deeds cannot go overlooked.

I don't give a crap about reported marital problems or daughters with see-through gowns. Those won't impact his ability to be an effective President. (Unless, of course, they end up consuming his entire attention the way Monica did Bill.) But I do care, quite deeply in fact, about Kerry's seeming inability to admit to any fault or wrongdoing, his history of inconsistency on key issues and absenteeism from Senate votes, and his rapidly unraveling contention that Vietnam made him any kind of a better person than he was before.

These are key character traits highlighted by events. They deserve scrutiny if we're to understand what makes this man tick.

In short: if the lessons he learned in the Mekong Delta were "Hey, these medals are a ticket to a great political career—gimme more" and "Could you guys just got about your business while I film you? It's for a documentary I'm making... for later" and "I can make up horrible stories that damage the President and the country's will to continue to fight"... well, I don't think a damned thing he learned is likely to help us win the War on Terror.

He seems to think that his Vietnam service will help him be taken seriously as a wartime President. I see no evidence that he thinks his Vietnam service will help him be a wartime President. I don't think the latter interests him.

This Presidency, to him, looks more and more like the culmination of a thirty-year piece of elaborate political theater Kerry's been putting on—Act Three of the self-absorbed narrative of his life, where the moral of the story is that our military is stupid and gullible and quick to turn to barbarity, that a President who orders our troops into battle is usually harboring sinister motives that betray the trust of honest military heroes like him, that American armed response to global problems is always misguided, that America has a lot to learn from its European betters, and that the American people are little more than a passive, popcorn-eating audience who want to see a happy ending, with the Stars and Stripes flying on the same pole as the French Republic's banner under a sky-blue pennant whipping in the wind at the top, set against the Arc de Triomphe on a sunny day as the credits roll.

It's no coincidence, it seems, that Kerry delivered many of his statements about his war experience by comparing it to Apocalypse Now.

True students of history know that history isn't a narrative... it's just a series of events and responses, events and responses. People deal with these things as they go. They can't foresee what will happen ten pages further into the book. However, what makes them adaptable enough to respond to those new events when they come is that they don't realize they're in a book—they aren't tempted to think they see the end of a chapter coming, or a set of reading comprehension questions, or a forced echo of some piece of narrative foreshadowing that occurred three chapters ago. If the people in the book start thinking they're in a book, they do things like film themselves at war and make up salacious stories of wrongdoing to try to discredit our motives and sap our national resolve during times of trial.

Understanding these things about John Kerry relies upon giving the full due weight to issues that come up like the accusations of the Swift Vets. One may not like they method with which they've come forward (though we have to remember, these guys aren't just out to re-elect Bush—they've been active for months, trying to get some other Democrat nominated rather than Kerry; their beef is with Kerry himself, not with "anybody but Bush"); but if we ignore their testimony, even if it's true, just because it arrives in an ugly fashion, we risk not understanding what drives the man who would transform this nation from what it's become under Bush, playing out the climactic act of his Great American Novel, with himself as the redeemed, vanquishing tragic hero.

Somehow I don't think the story would turn out the way he wishes it would.

UPDATE: Keep on tranglin, Boston Strangler.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004
03:07 - Back out of the woodwork
http://www.moveonplease.org/

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Wow. So National Lampoon still exists, huh?

And it looks like they've suddenly become quite busy indeed... and with something whose time appears at last to have come: a full-scale parody of MoveOn.org, complete with a full trailer for a spoof of Fahrenheit 9/11.

And here I was starting to despair of anybody but the Left being able to use satire and sarcasm to their advantage this year. Thanks, National Lampoon—my faith in humanity is beginning to ebb back...

Thanks also to Combustible Boy for pointing this out and soothing my soul.


02:58 - So this is the "Arab Street", is it?
http://www.techcentralstation.com/081104C.html

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Boy, stories of cultural contact don't get a lot more disarming than this one, do they?

Every place in Tunis was friendly.

A waiter at the Café de Paris on Avenue Habib Bourguiba: "I cannot take any money from you."

Another waiter, at a different café: "You must come back. I need to see you before you go."

A random man on the street who only stopped to say hi: "America and Tunisia." He made two fists and placed them next to each other. "Friends."

Let's not go nuking any Meccas, hmm?


16:11 - I mock your pain
http://www.ucomics.com/boondocks/2004/08/11/

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Misuse the word "fact" and I laugh giddily when things don't go your way.

Hee hee hee hee heeeee!

Tuesday, August 10, 2004
20:38 - At last, a real plastic turkey
http://www.talkingpresidents.com/products-af-bush-td.shtml

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Now that just damn well rocks.

TalkingPresidents.com is anything but a politically unslanted company, as even an embarrassingly brief perusal of their site will reveal; but at least their renditions of Bush are smiling, unlike the dour and grim KB Toys version of the "Top Gun" figurine. In this case, it's particularly appropriate.

Regardless of how the trip was viewed politically, it will become a piece of our nation's history. It spurred a wave of patriotism here at home among many on Thanksgiving Day 2003. His appearance before the troops boosted the morale of many of our soldiers. Bush's sense of humor was clearly visible as he said, "I was just looking for a warm meal somewhere." Then he showed his appreciation for our soldiers saying, "Thanks for inviting me to dinner...I can't think of a finer group of folks to have Thanksgiving dinner with than you all."

It was a damned gutsy stunt, one that put him in very real danger, every bit as much as the tailhook carrier landing did—and while people found they could deride the "Mission Accomplished" stunt by smirking over how many soldiers had died since the banner was unfurled on the Lincoln, the best anyone could do to discredit the Thanksgiving event was to scoff that the turkey was "plastic".

Well, it wasn't. But now it is, and it takes a severely hardened heart not to stir at the thought of an action figure commemorating a piece of real-life action heroism.

I'm not about to claim that Bush's presidency has been faultless or sparkling. Far, far from it. But it's had its moments, and this was one of them.


13:42 - I knew I'd see the magic picture if I stared long enough

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So I was idly perusing earlier posts from this week (yeah, I'm obsessive that way), and since I well know that taking a break of a day or so from a piece of visual art can completely change your take on it, I gave this post another look. The one about the German Subway tray-liner advertising, which LGFers had been arguing over whether it constituted a satiric depiction of 9/11.



Many LGF readers didn't follow the original link and didn't see the picture. But many eventually did; and of those who did, most agreed that it isn't a 9/11 parody—but others still maintained that it was. I wasn't sure what to make of that; it doesn't much look like it to me. It looks more like the burger is being depicted as Godzilla. It's a stupid way to parody 9/11, if that's what the artist's intention was. The latter interpretation mystified me.

But just now I realized: it all depends on which direction you see the burger as traveling.

I was seeing it moving from right to left, emerging from the buildings, and sort of "rearing up".

The people who see 9/11 in it are probably seeing the burger as moving from left to right, which would indicate that it's crashing down at an angle, leaving burning destruction in its wake.

This interpretation only just now occurred to me; for a minute or two I told myself that it didn't affect the overall message, that it didn't matter how I saw the burger's movement occurring—the artist sure gave us plenty of ambiguity. But on further reflection... no, if you see the burger coming in from the left, this picture immediately becomes a whole lot more alarming.

It may not have been intentional; I still maintain that whatever the artist was paid for this contract job, Subway got ripped off. But I can certainly see the source of confusion now, and at the very least Subway should have been a little more circumspect in considering how at least one or two people in the ad division must have interpreted the picture.

This still just makes them careless, rather than deliberately offensive.

I think.


12:58 - Oncologist to the world
http://vodkapundit.com/archives/006406.php

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Stephen Green has posted a good stiff dose of perspective and foresight.

Oh, how I wish it were possible for our government to explain it to us in these terms.


11:41 - Morning brings no relief
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0895260174/qid=1092155457/sr=8-1/ref=p

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Its sales rank at Amazon is #1... but check this out:



Editorial review? Editorial review?! What the hell?

McCain's quote is a public slam on the people who appeared in the Swift Vets' ad. Not a review of the book.

What in the crap has happened to this planet? Bush Derangement Syndrome has so gripped the country that all the major online booksellers try to sabotage an anti-Kerry book? This is utterly insane.

(Thanks to Jaed for noticing this.)

And meanwhile, the Swift Vets have made it onto The Daily Show, where Jon Stewart has dubbed them "Operation Vet Offensive". Ho ho. And he shows the McCain quote, then follows it with the Bush administration's quote about halting "all unregulated 527s". Which Stewart quips was aimed primarily at "a group called Texas National Air Guard Veterans For Truth, made up of people who recall serving with the President."

Appreciative laughter throughout the room.

Because, you know, everybody knows Bush was AWOL. Because, like, there were all those accusations a while ago, right? And they were never conclusively answered. Or at least the mainstream media didn't cover any such responses. Which means they didn't exist. Right?

That's where the burden of proof is going to lie this election season. Bush is presumed guilty of all things, regardless of proof otherwise; and Kerry is presumed universally virtuous, regardless of proof otherwise. Those who control what we see and hear and read will see to that.

There's a terrible precedent being set this year.

Monday, August 9, 2004
20:35 - God dammit
http://medienkritik.typepad.com/blog/2004/08/will_smith_in_f.html

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Okay, will you actor idiots just please line up and get all this crap off your chests right now? I am getting so sick of every single week bringing yet another name of an actor I admire telling a credulous foreign journalist how awful America is. Can't we just get this over with so I don't have to wonder as I poke through the DVD racks, and can at least know? I mean, you're all determined to sound off, right? Why drag it out? It can't be that you're reluctant to take an "unpopular" stand, right?

In an interview posted today on the website of a major Frankfurt newspaper under the title "George W. Bush Lied to Me," star actor Will Smith had some interesting things to say about the USA, President George W. Bush, Michael Moore and the September 11 terror attacks among other things.

When asked if 9/11 had changed anything for him personally, Smith answered:

“No. Absolutely not. When you grow up black in America you have a completely different view of the world than white Americans. We blacks live with a constant feeling of unease. And whether you are wounded in an attack by a racist cop or in a terrorist attack, I’m sorry, it makes no difference.”

It is interesting to note that, on a certain level, Smith is comparing American police officers, those charged with protecting society, with Islamic terrorists intent on destroying America and everything it stands for. Smith implies that racism is so rampant among America’s police that it is a threat equal in magnitude to black America as that of international terrorism.

Of course the German press would love to hear that America is the new Nazi state. Wouldn't that just beat all?

Thanks, Will. It's not only September 10th, it's also 1954.

Crimi-ny.


17:16 - Pass me the airbrush
http://humaneventsonline.com.edgesuite.net/unfit_cover.html

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Lots of people claim to have seen this independently, otherwise I'd never have believed it. It's just not even plausible; but apparently it's true.

The cover of the new anti-Kerry book, Unfit for Command, set to hit shelves soon, has been given an alternative, pro-Kerry cover at the Barnes & Noble online store. The title of the book has been changed to Fit for Command, and the cover image has been changed from a close-up of a finger-pointing Kerry to a picture of Kerry in uniform with other Vietnam veterans. (The book currently sits at #7 on the Barnes & Noble Top 100 and at #2 on Amazon.)


LGF commenter Buckaroo says:

I used to laugh about the Soviets & ChinComs who would airbrush Politburo members out of existence.

I'm not laughing anymore ...

Hey, they didn't make mistakes either. Just ask 'em...

UPDATE: All too real.

UPDATE: InstaPundit's coverage of the unraveling Kerry's-Christmas-in-Cambodia thing, featuring reader e-mail:

Several readers note that the "near Cambodia" completely destroys the point of Kerry's original statement. This is representative:

If the campaign is really saying Kerry was just "near Cambodia", isn't that phenomenally lame?

When Kerry brought up Cambodia, he was always doing it in the context of presidential lying--i.e. "I was in Cambodia, listening to the president say we had no troops in Cambodia".

With this re-write, it becomes "I was *near* Cambodia, listening to the president say we had no troops *in* Cambodia, which, okay, was true as far as I could tell, but if I'd been just, like, sixty miles further west, it would've been a LIE!"

I hope he can do better.

Me too.

Um, I don't.

This is getting nauseating.

The sooner we can stop this charade that noxiously pretends that this haughty, condescending, thin-skinned, inconsistent, weak-willed, childish pathological liar is in any way qualified to be President of the United States, the better off we'll all be.

UPDATE: Wouldn't it be something, you know, if the self-flagellating impression we as a nation gave ourselves of our military in the post-Vietnam denouement was largely based on what Kerry told the Senate about how shamefully it had behaved—and if it turns out that what he said was all fabrications, or statements of what he himself had done, contrary to his superiors' orders?

What if Kerry owes his entire political career to his bombshell testimony back in the day—two Senatorial decades purchased at the price of our military's honor and credibility, the loss of which dogs us today in Iraq?

Why, it would turn this election into a choice between voting the very embodiment of our military's undeserved shame into the world's highest office, or exorcising a ghost that has haunted and crippled us for thirty long years...

...But no, I'm just being fanciful.


15:44 - The Blame Train
http://www.chinpokomon.com/archives/001227.html#001227

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Kevin at Chinpokomon.com has a hilarious roundup of stories being stirred up in the wake of what John Kerry may as well be calling his "Pissing Off America" railroad tour. His campaign train keeps blasting through whistle-stop destinations, leaving sign-waving supporters and cancer-suffering children long-faced and disappointed on the platform.

Predictably, "Campaign officials blamed the conductor for failing to slow down."

Is it just me, or is this becoming a theme of the Kerry campaign? We are never wrong? We don't make mistakes? Is that the message they think they're sending?

Hint, guys: it's not working.

You blame your Secret Service detail for knocking you down on the ski slopes. You blame a journalist asking an honest question for "smearing" Teresa over her "un-American" comment. You blame a Republican attack machine for creating the Swift Vets out of thin air to impugn what had previously been seen as an unimpeachably honorable military record. And now you're blaming the conductor for not slowing down the train?

How hard is it to simply admit to a mistake? How damaging do you think it would be to say that, for instance, "There was a mixup in our planning" or "We had problems communicating our whistle-stop directions to the conductor"?

I've written before about this: a "pathological need to be right", characteristic of the likes of Michael Moore, John Kerry, and, indeed, a great many people I've known throughout my life who seem to have gotten it into their heads that the most important thing in the entire world is to be seen as infallible—that the slightest admission of being wrong about anything is tantamount to admitting utter defeat about everything.

Not only do we have an innate desire to be right all the time-- we also seem to have an odd presumption that it's better to be right all the time, because that will make us better liked and better respected.

It's been one of the hardest life lessons for me to learn, that this is not the case.

Admitting you're wrong about something not only doesn't generally detract from how well respected a person is; it often makes him better liked. I mean, come on. We all know that one butthole in our social circle who can simply never admit defeat in an argument. What happens over time? Do people get to respect him more, defer more to his opinion, whether he's right or wrong? Or does the guy gradually stop getting invited to parties?

If someone can never say those three simple words, I was wrong—then he's immature. That's what I must conclude. If someone in my social circle is relentlessly insistent upon everything that goes wrong being someone else's fault, then it means he's not mature enough to face up to failures—which, naturally, precludes learning from such failures.

And I don't want a President who's as immature as that guy who stops being invited to one's parties.

Kris tells me of a Nova show in which a famous astronomer had discovered a new planet; he'd written up a long and groundbreaking report, which he was prepared to give to a packed house at a major science convention. Then, the night before the keynote speech, the scientist discovered a mistake in his calculations: he hadn't discovered a new planet after all. In horror, he checked and rechecked his numbers, and it was true: all he had to present to the breathlessly waiting audience was an error.

So what did he do? Did he fudge the facts? Did he blame an assistant for taking bad data? Did he skip the country? No—he went up on stage before the thousands of his peers, cleared his throat, and told them all that the discovery that he'd prepared to show them was false after all. He showed them his research, presented the now-meaningless report, and submitted himself for the mortifying judgment of the room.

He got a standing ovation. A long, loud one. And now his character is so far beyond reproach that his peers will hurl themselves before a moving train for him.

If only our politics judged character by integrity the way the scientific community does, eh? If only politicians placed honesty above this need to present an incorrupt face to the public—which the public could always see through anyway? If only our leaders would admit to being human!

I may not be paying enough attention, but I haven't seen any statements from the Kerry campaign—on any subject—that admit to mistakes or miscalculations of any kind. Kerry, it's becoming more and more clear, takes himself way too seriously for that. I've seen no evidence of the kind of self-effacing humor that characterizes Bush; indeed, since today's pop-culture society values self-effacing humor so highly, I find that to be vaguely ironic. If only Kerry had been able to say, for example, "Oops, I took a spill there. Hey, I can faceplant with the best of 'em!" He doesn't think that would have ruined his shot at the Presidency, does he?

But I get the feeling that if either of the candidates is in a position to claim to be "humble" on the world stage, Kerry's no more likely to be willing to admit to American fault than Bush is—probably a lot less so, in fact. Most Americans feel that we have nothing to apologize for regarding Iraq; but a Kerry presidency, if it shares anything with Kerry's own life, is going to involve its own fair share of embarrassments and failures. If Kerry stands before the nation or the UN in the wake of some scandal and points at scapegoats, we'll know we've elected someone with no more intellectual maturity than the kid who kicks all his friends out of his parents' basement when the D&D game goes sour.

The Democrats are going to have to learn to accept their own faults, if they want to be taken seriously by the rest of the country. America isn't "theirs" by right, their sniveling assertions to that effect notwithstanding. They're going to have to earn it. And that means showing some understanding that the American spirit is fundamentally about owning up to mistakes and failures, because that's an inseparable part of the freedom to succeed that we cherish in this country. If the Democrats can't reconcile themselves with that principle, then they don't deserve to inherit the reins of the nation: they won't have any idea where to steer it... but they'll never stop to ask directions, either.


13:44 - You take the high road
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0418068/

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Oh, but Paul, the moral bar's been raised, you see—thanks to the miracle of message boards:

Do you not think its an old boring, worn out cliche to bash the Police Academy films?. They are in a league of their own now. They have a cult following. Whether its for being crap or not, they have now reached a legendary status. Jesus, the most interesting people nowadays are those who like Police Academy movies because those people are certainly unique. I hate the same old boring people who have no minds of their own and only follow the crowd. Can you say something more original next time?.

Gosh, I feel like an uncultured heel now for smirking at news of a Police Academy 8.

Wait. No I don't!


11:50 - Nyah ah ahhh. I love being evil!
http://www.ppaction.org/ppvotes/choice_chick.html

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I believe I agree with Glenn's take on this ad.

When you flat-out refuse to accept that the other side can possibly have any motivation other than evil, sure, it makes for fun Flash aimations—but whom, exactly, do you think you're convincing? All it does is tell moderates, people who can see both sides of a given issue, that you aren't interested in rational discussion or compromise.

These moderates are people who don't like to reward petulant foot-stamping whiners who think they're "simply right and that's all there is to it". And now they won't. Congratulations, creators of "Choice Chick", for very likely turning off a fair number of people who had been fence-sitters on the abortion issue. Congratulations on being immature, condescending brats who hijack morally-superior vocabulary so you don't have to face engaging reasoned opposition. Congratulations on turning what had seemed a totally reasonable position into a parody of itself, and on insulting a great many people who had otherwise been sympathetic to your cause.

Gee, where have we seen this happen before?

Sunday, August 8, 2004
17:03 - A lost art, revived
http://www.cnn.com/2004/US/South/08/08/bodies.found/index.html

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Now that is an awesome headline.



Still doesn't hold a candle, though, to "Howard Stern's Private Parts Surprisingly Sensitive"...

Saturday, August 7, 2004
02:39 - Oh, tell me more

(top)
So I'm sitting here minding my own business, when up pops an e-mail (seemingly sent as spam—the sender is "root@concentric.net") with the following contents:

People in the armed forces are lazy! Read this article:

http://toobis.com/rant-armedforces.html

And then forward this to all of your friends so that the world can learn
the truth about our military!! I'm trying to get the word out so people
stop treating these people like royalty when they've hardly done
anything for us. Thank you for your time.

Uhhh... huh.

Boy, I tell you what: you know how they say a picture's worth a thousand words? Well, I guess that makes this guy's picture and the article that goes with it pretty much redundant.

There's a whole site full of this stuff, too. I can't quite figure out what this guy's story is; I'm torn between "twitching crackbaby" and "ingenious master of satire".

Either way, it's fun, in a poking-roadkill-with-a-stick kind of way.

Friday, August 6, 2004
22:15 - The fourth branch of government, the fifty-first state
http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=12032_Journalism_Isnt_Dead_It_Just_Sme

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Something's happening in journalism. Something big.

I can imagine what it must be like to be one of these journalists present at this conference, can't you? You've got your laptop and your notepad, you're sitting in what's become the position of power in the press room, where you get to ask whatever questions you choose, no matter how irrelevant or loaded. You've got this specter called "Journalistic Integrity" hovering around at the edge of your consciousness like an unwelcome chaperone—but as you ask your questions, and as Bush does his best to fend them off, first you clear your throat pointedly, and nobdy elbows you in the ribs... so the next time, you try a little snort, and you hear someone else giggle at the other side of the room. Then you chortle. No pangs of remorse, no glowering stare from the spectral Murrow-shaped schoolmarm... so now you laugh out loud! And you boo! And you cackle! And the whole room joins in!

What's running through your head now? That journalists are the rightful holders of real political power in this country. You've even got a rationale for it: the market selects media organs that suit its demands for news coverage and appropriate slant toward an agenda. Viewpoints that are unpopular don't get the ratings, and eventually a consensus is reached. Why, it's democracy! And you sit excitedly in your chair, tapping away gleefully on your laptop, and you envision the day when the Press Corps will rise as one, march toward the front of the room, drag the President out of his chair, and throw da bum out! All on live national TV! This is politics, Information Age style!

At least, that's what it's got to look like from within the heads of those who consign their mascots of integrity and impartiality and respect to the sidelines as they become seemingly less and less relevant, as there are fewer and fewer repercussions for straying into outright partisanship. The draw of power is all too real, and all that stands in the way of someone grabbing for it is that person's value system; when that value system evaporates, escalation becomes exponential. It's the same mechanism by which starry-eyed college kids, hoping to impress the cute blonde at the study session, end up waving BUSH=HITLER signs and torching Jewish cemeteries. It all seems so innocent, it all seems to be the right "progressive" thing to do... surely someone would have cried "Halt!" if we'd taken a wrong turn anywhere, right?

But from outside the bubble, it looks more like a train wreck... and to see a roomful of journalists boo and laugh mockingly at the President as he stumbles over meaningless questions from left field like "what tribal sovereignty means for Native American tribes in the 21st century" isn't just bizarre, it's profoundly insulting to our sense of what politics should be.

Journalism thinks it's on the verge of becoming our nation's designated kingmaking body. But it might just find that it's become our nation's pariah, marginalized and scorned and afforded as much deference and respect as fortune-tellers.

Meanwhile, while googling for Bush quotes, I found this. I'd thought it would be a derisive collection of malapropisms... but damn, these are funny.

I needed that.


15:27 - Congressman, legislate thyself
http://www.celluloid-wisdom.com/pw/index.php/weblog/entry/ladies_and_gentlemen_this_

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Via Cold Fury...

I've made some noise lately about people dimly aware that something called "The First Amendment" exists, deciding that it means they should be allowed to say anything they please in any venue, and provided with protection against people who might dare to disagree with them. I've been trying patiently (and not-so-patiently) to explain what precisely the First Amendment does and does not guarantee.

Let's review:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

In other words, unless Congress is involved, the First Amendment doesn't frickin' apply. "Free speech" between private parties is regulated by the market of ideas, and one side is free to shout down or stifle the other and stop buying tickets to its concerts.

No Congressmen around? Then no First Amendment breach. Congress doesn't get involved in private discourse, because to do so—on either side—would be censorship. Got it? Good.

Several members of Congress sent a letter Tuesday to Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News, to express their opposition to what they say is the network’s “unfair and unbalanced” bias towards the Republican Party.

The group, composed of 38 Democrats and Independents from the U.S. House of Representatives, has requested that Murdoch meet with them to discuss their concerns.

“The responsibility of the media is to report the news in an unbiased, impartial and objective manner,” the letter reads.

“It seems clear that Fox News network has a deliberate bias in favor of, and often serves as an extension of, the Republican Party’s policies and ideology.”

. . .

A spokesman for Rep. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said there were legislative avenues that the group could pursue as a secondary measure but declined to speculate on what those might be. 

Uh...

Wait.

You wanna run that by me again?

No, that can't be what you're saying. You're saying that members of the House of Representatives—you know, Congressmen ...

... and Fox News ... the only network that even vaguely demonstrates a lack of liberal slant ...

... and unspecified legislative avenues ...

Tell me, Congressman—how much more flagrantly do you think it's possible to breach the explicit verbatim commandment of the First Amendment?!

Oh, and just watch: these guys will be hailed as "brave" and "conscientious" for standing up to the heinous threat to free speech that Fox represents. When Murdoch is hounded from the dial and we have ideological purity once again, this group of Congressmen will be called American heroes, and anyone who opposes them will be branded "enemies of free speech and the First Amendment".

How has this happened? How can there not be anyone on the Left who sees something like this and takes a step back and says, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, let's not get carried away here—promoting liberal ideas is all well and good, but let's not turn the very premise of the First Amendment on its ass! Let's at least practice what we preach, and observe a little self-restraint before we end up rewriting the whole Constitution out of pure spite!"

If these Congressmen don't find themselves impeached by their own party for flagrant disregard of the Constitution that they'd sworn to uphold, then the Democrats have forfeited any claim even to understand this country's founding principles, let alone to be trusted to defend them.

My God, I have seldom been so angry.


12:37 - Things that need coverage
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,128193,00.html

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Via LGF—on Fox News, of course (like anyone else would report on this):

ALBANY, N.Y. —Information found in Iraq led federal investigators to become suspicious of an Albany, N.Y., mosque leader, FOX News has learned.

Last summer, U.S. troops discovered Yassin Muhhiddin Aref’s name, telephone number and address in a book left behind in a vacated terrorist training camp, a U.S. official told FOX News. The book also revealed that Ansar al-Islam, the group running the camp, had given Aref a title: “the commander.”

The next time someone tells me that terror alerts are politically motivated, that there is no terrorist threat that isn't made up by Bush, or that Iraq had nothing to do with the War on Terror, I'm going to kick him square in the nuts.

UPDATE: Mike presents the quoted material rather more effectively.


11:55 - Now that's mildly creepy

(top)
A couple of days ago, I linked to the day's Sinfest strip, and because of the episode's determinedly Bizarro-World premise, sneeringly titled the post "We make our own reality".

Now look at the following day's strip:



Um...

Thursday, August 5, 2004
00:58 - Subway's on thin ice—but it's holding
http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=12004_Subway_Mocks_9-11_in_Germany

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I saw this earlier today, and almost linked it, but something stopped me.

(CNSNews.com) - Picture this: a gigantic cheeseburger (with tomatoes and lettuce) slamming into two high-rise buildings, as cartoon characters run from the flaming ruins.

It’s clearly a takeoff on the 9/11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center, and according to the Virginia-based Center for Individual Freedom, the illustration appears on page 18 of a 30-page “food diary” distributed by Subway sandwich shops in Germany.

. . .

The new image shows that Subway’s advertising is “far more disturbing and anti-American than previously thought,” the Center for Individual Freedom said in a press release.

Outrageous! Making fun of 9/11 in order to sideswipe burger joints? Intolerable! I'm boycotting Subway and writing to their management!

...But hold on a minute here. I stopped short of this reaction; and what stopped me was the actual image in question:



"Clearly" a takeoff on 9/11? I don't think so. Yeah, I was outraged when I read the citation. And it's clear that Subway's German advertising does routinely seem to use condescension toward Americans as its stock in trade (Don't eat burgers! What, do you wanna end up like the Americans?). But this image stops well short of being a 9/11 parody. If anything, it's a "Godzilla"-meme iteration, and not a very skillful one at that. But if the artist had intended to evoke 9/11, he did a staggeringly incompetent job.

So I'm not going to be doing any boycotting of Subway. Particularly, as commenter Doctor Bean says:

Subway is a franchise. Each store is owned by some poor shmuck trying to make a living who pays Subway for the use of the name and the Subway stuff (like McDonald's). Subway does not own the individual stores. A boycott would just hurt the guy in your neighborhood who never heard of what's happening in Germany. Subway would still get his monthly franchise fee; they would lose nothing. Any action should be directed to the national company.

Subway's management should certainly hear about how we "Amis" feel about being characterized with an obese Statue of Liberty holding a burger and fries (I'm sure a giant statue of Michael Moore holding a lawsuit would be more appropriate anyway). But let's not go nuts and assume the Germans would flock to a restaurant that trades on 9/11-mocking imagery.

The French, though, are another story.

Anyway, I had a comment, myself:

Everybody, please pledge to look at the image in question before firing off the flame or enacting your boycott before lunchtime today. :)

I think this may be symptomatic of a larger tendency-- of people, even intelligent LGFers, to trust the quoting skills of the blogger so much that they think it's unnecessary to follow the link and see the whole story for themselves. While the bloggers in question may be in fact great at selecting what to quote, sometimes that's the problem: they become too good, and people assume that what's quoted is the entirety of what's interesting and actionable about the linked item.

I'm not saying Charles should change his linking-mostly-without-comment style. It's part of what makes LGF so demonstrably factual. But I'm saying, as a longtime LGF mostly-lurker and blogger, that it would behoove us all to add "read the original item before becoming outraged" to the list of things we do when a news story breaks, right along with "the 48-hour rule".

Yeah, I agree.

...Wait...


19:26 - My eyes are streaming
http://stevegilliard.blogspot.com/2004/08/celebrate-racism.html#comments

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Whether primarily from inconsolable sadness at the human condition or raucous goatlike laughter I'm not prepared to say. Suffice to say, it's a mixture of both.

My God. I used to know people like this... hell, I used to be people like this.

UPDATE: The comments on this post are hysterical. "I... I.... I think I just laughed up my liver...."


15:17 - What's going on here?
http://humaneventsonline.com.edgesuite.net/unfit_pdf.html

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So InstaPundit just discovered that the Kerry campaign has faxed legal threats to stations airing the "Swift Vets" ad—the fax is strongly worded, as one might imagine, but claims adamantly that not a single one of the people portrayed in the ad actually served with Kerry, and that as such it's just slander.

And if you go to the Swift Vets site, the main page with the movie still comes up—but the "index.php" page with all the background material times-out and/or throws an SQL error. Overload? Misconfiguration? Emergency "maintenance" and rewriting of content?

Boy. I don't know what to think about this; one way or the other, this is going to be a bloodbath. If the Swift Vets are lying, then it'll be Kerry's biggest coup to date and a fiasco for his opponents. But if the Swift Vets are telling the truth and the Kerry campaign is issuing threats which are themselves based on false claims, then he's just amplified the ad's effect tenfold.

Either way, this ain't gonna be pretty.

UPDATE: SwiftVets.com now says "We are moving to much faster servers. We'll be right back."

I'm on pins and needles here. This isn't some subjective argument, where both sides have a reasonable case and losing is no big deal. This is a binary disagreement over objective facts. One side's claiming it's sunny and the other is claiming it's cloudy; in a minute we're going to open the curtains, and one side will be proven absolutely, incontrovertibly, dead wrong.

How can either side, knowing the truth would come out, give the other side ammunition of this magnitude? Conceptually, this development absolutely staggers me.

UPDATE: The best point I've seen from this LGF thread is from Fenway_Nation:

Wonder if this form letter being faxed by the DNC is just a formality that would give the 'Mainstream' media outlets the opportunity to weasel out of airing the swiftobat vet's ad.

"Gee, we'd LIKE to air this, but we got this scary fax from the DNC counsel...."

That would explain the hysterical language, and why the Kerry campaign is faxing the C&D orders to the TV stations airing the ad, rather than to the Swift Vets themselves—which is what you'd expect them to do if the vets were lying, wouldn't you? And the SwiftVets.com site has been online and saying the same things for months before the ad came out; Kerry had forever to C&D them if what they were doing was provably libelous.

Still no official response from the vets, but I'm seeing more reasons to be suspicious of Kerry than of them.

UPDATE: So John McCain demands that Bush disavow the Swift Vets' ad, and Bush does not do so; meanwhile, the Vets respond to McCain via Drudge, in a more or less content-free way. Any response yet to the fax from Kerry's legal team?

UPDATE: Unless I'm reading this incorrectly, the vets have been giving affidavits to the stations that air the ad, affirming the authenticity of their claims. Someone who's listening to Hewitt ought to be able to confirm this...

Oh, and evidently Fox News is about to present the ad (with rebuttals from both sides) shortly.

UPDATE: The original InstaPundit post has lots more details that have been coming out, such as this expansion on Fenway_Nation's theory (above), by Kevin Greene:

This will backfire, and is surely why the Internet is the medium of our time. More people, I suspect, will see this ad because of the controversy over the attempt by the Kerry camp to keep it under wraps.

Yup. Remember how many Google searches there were on "Daniel Pearl" and "Nick Berg"? Let's be tallying the "Kerry Swift Vets Video" searches in the near future. And this one's got an official site, too.

Glenn's also got this rather inconclusive interview between two of the Vietnam vets in Kerry's Swift Boat squadron, conducted on CNN. Summary: lots of bullets flying around, and nobody's sure what the hell happened.

But that's neither here nor there, compared to the histrionics of the Kerry lawyers' fax. Are they splitting hairs, trying to get stations to ditch the ad because certain claims that the video never even made are incorrect (like whether the one guy was "a doctor" or "Kerry's doctor" or whatever)? Or are they just playing the left-leaning media like a well-tempered klavier, giving them a soothing "there, there" so they won't feel obligated to give those nasty right-wingers a platform?

UPDATE: One last thought. It occurs to me that this (and this) are illustrations of what Kerry and Michael Moore et al. meant when they said they'd be hiring teams of "fact-checker" lawyers to make sure that they'd be ready for any attacks that might come.

They meant it in the sense of "check your facts at the door".

This is a private party, and facts aren't welcome here. Just leave them with the fact-checker over there. Complain, and we sue yo' ass. We got lawyers!

"Bring it on" indeed.

UPDATE: The Swift Vets' response is now available.

Wednesday, August 4, 2004
01:42 - Crossover hell

(top)
I know this makes me a bad comics-type-person, but am I the only guy on Earth who looks at Alien vs. Predator and thinks, "what a frickin' joke"?

Next summer: Batman vs. the Terminator! Followed by Speed Buggy vs. Richie Rich!


23:45 - I'm sure Berlin was considered "progressive" at a certain time
http://www.examiner.com/article/index.cfm/i/080404n_heller

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I guess it's possible for a city to become so liberal and tolerant and progressive that its people become Nazis.

Ugh. My earlier feeling about today seems to be bearing itself out... but that boulder's doing a lot of damage on the way down.

Via Mike Silverman.


19:49 - Maybe John Kerry should stop talking about Vietnam
http://www.swiftvets.com/

(top)
Just a thought.


18:50 - I think I need a cigarette
http://coldfury.com/index.php?p=4713

(top)
Mike at Cold Fury refreshes his claim to his site's title. Big time.

It's been a zillion "little things" for the past couple of years, but I think Howard Dean's moronic remarks about the "suspicious timing" of the terror alerts have touched off something of a that's-the-last-damn-straw vibe. Honestly, it's nothing we haven't heard a thousand times before, but... well, somehow, something about it this time—maybe just the idea that bald barking insanity has so visibly gripped the world around us, reaching up to such heights as pretenders to the White House—has sent more than one of us just a little bit round the bend.

Why do I get the urge to describe the general sentiment I'm picking up today as like a giant boulder dislodged from a mountainside, slowly starting to roll downhill?

Tuesday, August 3, 2004
23:46 - The logo of the white stallion
http://www.newyorker.com/printable/?fact/040802fa_fact

(top)
Via LGF... the most in-depth and gripping piece of real journalism on the Jihadist movement I've seen in months, possibly ever.

I hesitate to say something like "refuse to read it at your peril", because however I feel about this whole mess, fearful isn't how I'd describe my sentiments. (Perhaps epically pissed-off.) I don't think people would be well served by instilling themselves with fear. But we'd better instill ourselves with something.

Think about this article the next time someone tells you that the announcement of some new terror threat, particularly one against specific targets and sourced from a specific apprehended suspect, is a suspiciously-timed political maneuver.


16:26 - We make our own reality
http://www.sinfest.net/d/20040803.html

(top)
Today's Sinfest:



Today's Dean Esmay:

Dani Emery actually thought we were joking when John Eddy and I said we expect there to be a few deaths at the Republican convention in New York. The Democrats managed to avoid that by forcing all protestors into a cage, but the Republicans have no such plans.

But that's not important. What's important is that it makes you think, or something.

Why doesn't anyone ever make artists think?

UPDATE: Oh, and I understand this will soon be made into an animated series and shown with great fanfare on Adult Swim.

Is it November yet?


15:02 - That rock ain't doin' a whole lot for me
http://www.homestarrunner.com/disk4of12.html

(top)
I hope everybody has wastedspent a good hour or two of their lives on this by now:



There's something profoundly meaningful about the whole experience, but I'm not sure what it is. All I know is... no one can defeat Trogdor the Burninator.

No one.

Monday, August 2, 2004
23:58 - From the mouths of babes does often come cereal
http://corsair.blogspot.com/2004/07/dumb-ass-know-nothing-teens-group-of.html

(top)
Corsair found this most excellent Washington Post article on yet another clash of cultures: between American kids who think Iraqis hate us because of the war, and Iraqi kids who are fans of Bush.

And, in fact, American students said they found their Iraqi counterparts to be a highlight of the week.

"It's so cool," declared Carrie Shoultz, 16, of Eagan, Minn., as she lingered around the Iraqis' dinner table. "I oppose the war, but I thought it would be good to get it from the horse's mouth."

And what had she found? Majid asked wryly.

"That [the Iraqis] were pretty split," Shoultz said. "I thought they didn't like us [Americans] -- I wanted to hear that they didn't like us. But then you got Ali here . . . who supports Bush!"

The ignorant wog!

These American kids probably have "Think For Yourself" slogans scrawled all over their schoolbooks. One day they'll learn that thinking for oneself doesn't mean simply listening to people your own age instead of to people who are older and wiser.


19:22 - Darling Oem-Software Customer!

(top)
Courtesy of Chris—this has got to be in the running for Best Spam Evar:

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X-Sender: patio@mostlysunny.com
X-Mailer: QUALCOMM Windows Eudora Version 6.0.0.22
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They say it only takes one bite in a million to make spam worthwhile... but if you ask me, those are pretty optimistic odds in this case.


14:50 - Argh!

(top)
First goes the pronunciation; then, when no consequences are forthcoming, goes the spelling.

I've fumed before about Nestlé Crunch ads starring people who think that "caramel" is pronounced with one A and two syllables; one such ad even featured two guys (one of them, inexplicably, Shaq) arguing over the pronunciation. Eventually sanity seemed to win out.

But now you can go to Taco Bell and order what appears on the menu, verbatim, as a "Carmel Apple Empanada".

What is that—apples from Carmel? I never realized the region was known for its apple orchards.

Yaagh! Didn't even the marketing people go to high school? Do we need to call up the Hooked on Phonics people and have them talk to Tricon's people? Let's have some standards in professional signage, for crying-out-loud!


11:50 - The honeymoon's over
http://www.deanesmay.com/posts/1091277100.shtml

(top)
Dean Esmay noted a couple of days ago that several big left-leaning papers, including Der Spiegel, have started coming out, as it were—clearing their throats, shuffling their feet, and then saying in no uncertain terms that Fahrenheit 9/11 is a bunch of crap, and that the Left is doing itself no favors by treating it as though it's a piece of honest journalism that retains any credibility for itself or its maker.

And the Poles? The Poles know propaganda when they see it.

I do believe Mr. Moore has heaved himself breathlessly over a very apprehensive shark with this one. F9/11 was his big chance, the biggest one he'd ever get—and boy did it pay off; he's been paraded around the DNC like an appointee to a new Cabinet-level Office of Homeland Denigration, and he's everybody's favorite celebrity at the box office and around the water cooler. But... well, now that there's been time for people to really absorb what his pack of sound and fury says (or, really, doesn't say)—it's starting to sink in just how little it signifies. He's never going to get a bigger opportunity than this one—never such a subject so dear to his heart to cover, with never so much at stake. He's done.

And having released F9/11 in the summer, Moore gave us a whole five months to let it turn into a cliché and a joke. And for people like Trey Parker to release rebuttals, much better timed so as to be October Surprises.

If anyone got gamed here, it's their own dang fault.

Sunday, August 1, 2004
23:16 - Judging character
http://www.capitalistlion.com/article.cgi?1133

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CapLion noticed this about Kerry's recent statement that he wants to put Osama bin Laden on trial for "murder" in a U.S. court:

Kerry has just proven that he doesn't care one bit about the war on terror, about 9/11, or about the survival of our nation. He just said (assuming the highly unlikely-- that bin Laden hasn't been cave paste for years) that should bin Laden be captured, he should be tried for murder. This is a flip-flop on his previous statement that if captured, he should be shot in the head. This proves something to me: Kerry doesn't give a damn either way. He only wants the power, and is willing to say or do whatever his handlers calculate as the best means to that end. If that means appearing "moderate" on the subject of bin Laden, then that's what he says.

Yes, exactly. This is key and critical. If Kerry can't come up with a consistent statement about how he'd deal with Osama if he arrived in Washington in chains, and hems and haws based on how he thinks voters will react to his stance on capital punishment or international criminal justice, then he's making a statement far louder than anything he could say in words.

A friend recently told me that he's simply bothered by the idea that "someone with Billy Graham on his speed-dial is in charge of fighting the war on Islamia." Okay, well, fair enough. But who would you rather have: someone who justly recognizes this war as the clash of civilizations that it truly is, or someone who doesn't even seem to give a crap?

Having religious convictions doesn't automatically make someone a good person, it's true. But neither does not having religious convictions. And in the case of the struggle we're now facing, a leader who is so caught up with believing that his aloofness from overt faith is proof of his intellectual superiority that he would treat terrorism as a criminal matter, to be dealt with by police and the court system and "first responders", and who can't work up the moral courage to even issue a vaguely visceral response to questions about bin Laden, is someone we can't trust to have a value system at all.

Maybe we're old-fashioned that way. But, well, so are they.


14:28 - Dueling posters

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Compare and contrast:



Which do you suppose will be more successful? And which is more grounded in maturity and reality?

And let me just say that I don't believe I've ever heard of anybody on the Right trying to prevent the Democrats from holding their convention, much less forming an organization soliciting posters toward that end.

Such faith in democracy.

(Both via LGF.)

Saturday, July 31, 2004
02:26 - Take that
http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=11853

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I'm not sure why I didn't link to this when it was first spreading around—but on deeper cogitation it seems the kind of thing that really ought to be more widely known about.

“We saw the hole for the bunker but it hard to believe someone live in that hole. It was really small,” Samir remembers. “They shot in there and he started yelling, ”Don’t shoot, don’t shoot, don’t kill me.’“ So I had to talk to him. I was the translator. I said, ‘Just come out.’ He kept saying, ‘Don’t shoot. Don’t kill me.’”

In Arabic Samir said he continued to pursuade Saddam to come out. He was about to come face to face with the tyrant who killed his loved ones.
Saddam was the reason he fled Iraq in 1991 and eventually moved to St. Louis.

Samir says, “I was like, ‘I got him.’ We all reached him and pulled him out. And we say Saddam Hussein he looks really old. He looks disgusting.” There was also anger. “You want to beat the crap out of him. He destroyed millions in Iraq. I’m one. I left my family 13 years ago because of him.”

Saddam couldn’t fight back, but he did speak out. “He called me a spy. He called me a traitor. I had to punch him in face. They had to hold me back. I got so angry I almost lost my mind. I didn’t know what to do. Choke him to death. That’s really not good enough.”

For Samir, this was sweet justice. One of Iraq’s own, now a U.S. citizen, helping arrest one of the world’s most wanted fugitives. “I said ‘Who are you? What’s your name?’ He replied, ‘I’m Saddam.’ Saddam what, I asked. He said, ‘Don’t yell. I’m Saddam Hussein.”

I wonder why this wasn't publicized more back when Saddam was first captured; and I hope the reason wasn't that this is an exaggerated story. I sure hope it's for real, though; the symbolism is all there, as perfect as though expertly screenwritten. It makes for an irresistible scene for when the Iraq War gets made into a blockbuster movie.

...Well, that is, if Hollywood ever comes to the conclusion that it's possible to portray the Iraq War in a positive light.


01:46 - When Photoshop is outlawed, only outlaws will have Photoshop
http://e-merl.com/dragon.htm

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Ow. My brain.

Friday, July 30, 2004
18:56 - The future doesn't belong to fear; it belongs to CNN
http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/science/07/30/vote.psych.reut/index.html

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Oh, isn't this just loverly.

Study: Fear shapes voters' views

President George W. Bush may be tapping into solid human psychology when he invokes the September 11 attacks while campaigning for the next election, U.S. researchers said on Thursday.

Talking about death can raise people's need for psychological security, the researchers report in studies to be published in the December issue of the journal Psychological Science and the September issue of the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

"There are people all over who are claiming every time Bush is in trouble he generates fear by declaring an imminent threat," said Sheldon Solomon of Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, who worked on the study.

"We are saying this is psychologically useful," said Solomon.

In other words, as Lance puts it, this study—which CNN presents as the most scholarly of works—posits that "only cowards and insane people could possibly vote for Bush."

"In one we asked half the people to think about the September 11 attacks, or to think about watching TV," Solomon said. "What we found was staggering."

When asked to think about television, the 100 or so volunteers did not approve of Bush or his policies in Iraq. But when asked to think about Sept. 11 first and then asked about their attitudes to Bush, another 100 volunteers had very different reactions.

"They had a very strong approval of President Bush and his policy in Iraq," Solomon said.
Imagine that.

One might almost be forgiven for thinking that 9/11 actually happened, or something.


16:39 - The man gets it

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It's hard to imagine two speeches as sundered in both style and content as Kerry's, from last night, and Bush's response to it from Springfield, Missouri.

Bush speaks in short, clipped sentences, without any of Kerry's flourishes or ligatures or arpeggios. He'll never use twenty words if he can make his point in five. He'll leave out words like "I'm" or "It's" if the meaning is clear without them. The result is a speech that doesn't sound like it's coming from a politician: it sounds like it's coming from, well, a cowboy.

Which makes it easy, as you read through the first part of it, to think there isn't any substance in it—just a bunch of catchphrases equivalent to "Make my day" and "Bring it on" and "Gee up, Clem." I'm sure that's what it sounds like to anyone listening to it with skepticism born of sophistication and immersion in the freshman reading list at Columbia.

That's why I was startled to find that this speech has some real meat in it. Statements and claims that seriously make you raise your eyebrows and rub your chin. Thoughts that make you nod your head off to the side and grunt approvingly as you evaluate it. He's naming trends that have only been hinted at and postulated among blogs and analysts—and they make perfect sense.

This world of ours is changing. Most Americans get their health care coverage through their work. Most of today's new jobs are created by small businesses which too often cannot afford to provide health coverage.

To help more American families get health insurance, we must allow small employers to join together to purchase insurance at discounts available to big companies.

To improve health care, we must limit the frivolous lawsuits that raise the cost of health care and drive good doctors out of medicine.

We must harness technology to reduce costs and prevent deadly health care mistakes. We must do more to expand research and development for new cures for terrible diseases.

In all we do to improve health care in America, and we will make sure the health decisions are made by doctors and patients, not by bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.

. . .

We're not turning back to the old days, the old Washington mindset that says they will give the orders, you'll pay the bills. We've turned a corner from that way of thinking and we're not turning back.

These are exciting times for change. The economy is changing, the world is changing.

In our parents' generation, moms usually stayed home while fathers worked for one company until retirement. The company provided health care and training and a pension. Many of the government programs and most basic systems, from health care to Social Security to the tax code, were based, and still are based, on the old assumptions.

This is a different world. Workers change jobs and careers frequently. Most of the jobs are created by small businesses. They can't afford to provide health care or pensions or training. Parents are working. They're not at home.

We need to make sure government changes with the times and to work for America's working families.

You see, American workers need to own their own health care accounts. They need to own and manage their own pensions and retirement systems.

They need more ownership so they can take the benefits from job to the job. They need flex time so they can work out of the home.

All of these reforms are based on this conviction: The role of government is not to control or dominate the lives of our citizens.

The role of government is to help our citizens gain the time and the tools to make their own choices and improve their own lives.

That's why I will continue to work to usher in a new era of ownership and opportunity in America. We want more people owning their own home. We want more people owning their own business. We want more people owning and managing their own health care system. We want more people owning and managing a part of their retirement systems. When a person owns something, he or she has a vital stake in the future of the United States of America.

Did he just make me happier with his social policy than with his defense policy?

These are audacious changes he's proposing—but not as far-reaching as the let's-copy-Canada mindset of the Clintonian era, and not as cynical either. It's a new approach to a new set of societal issues, not twenty-year-old answers to thirty-year-old problems. And really, all it is is a distillation of philosophy: a philosophy that's never materially changed since 1789. Our lives are in our own hands—that's what makes us different. It's what makes us Americans. It's the very essence of our social contract, which—far more than the borders of the country or the language we speak or the color of our skin—sets us apart from every other country that's ever existed.

What Bush is proposing is a plan to modernize our thinking about such social needs as the flexible family, the small entrepreneurial business, and the pressure for affordable health care—and to do it, crucially, in such a way as not to undermine our personal independence as individuals. It's not a recommendation to just try here what's been tried elsewhere; it's an acknowledgment that not only have those solutions been shown to be very imperfect where they've been tried, but they're also designed in response to a world long extinct. To adopt such plans here, today, would be to declare 1970 the most perfect of all eras.

The solutions he's proposing wouldn't have made sense fifty or even twenty years ago; but they're aimed at the world of 2008, based on trends and projections. Now, I didn't pay particularly close attention to Kerry's speech; but I don't seem to recall him describing any plans for America that exhibited this kind of insight into and acceptance of social trends, or linked them so well with American ideals. All he did was try to appeal to our sense of shame (the old "the only advanced nation in the world which fails to understand that health care is not a privilege, it's a right" business). I can only conclude, then, that Kerry really doesn't have much in the way of insight or vision—just a vague idea to stay the course, smile a lot, and hope that's enough.

Cowboys don't smile a lot. They don't have to.

(Via CapLion, who has a non-Fisking of a lot more of the speech.)

Thursday, July 29, 2004
14:20 - AirPort Explosion

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What? No, I mean the good kind.

Damien Del Russo writes to say:

Just thought you might want to know - I already know 3 people with Airport Express. When I got my iPod back in the day, it took about 2 years until I had 3 friends with an iPod (not I have about 6). Airport Express just started shipping and it is already popular! For one, I credit the iPod - more people are checking Apple products more frequently. I also credit myself, as I mentioned the device to two of the purchasers (LOL).

So what does this mean? Well, for one, it means I am not selling my stock. Beyond that, hell if I know! But I do suspect that the AE is a winner.

On Monday, Kris and I got an urgent smoke signal from our mole inside the Apple campus that the long-awaited shipment of 200 AirPort Expresses had finally arrived at the on-campus store, where the employees get discounts for themselves and their favored confederates on cool Apple gear (including hardware). This store tends to lag the regular retail channel in stocking new items, which stands to reason—Apple wants to get stuff into the hands of the retail customers, not the discounted employees. But finally, they were in stock, and right down the road. So off we jogged. Lo and behold, there they were: a whole display of them, right next to the front door, stacked up in their neat little blue-and-white boxes that look like they've got candy in them rather than networking appliances. Kris and I each picked one up, along with a connection kit (extension cord, analog and optical audio cables), and went home happy.

We happened to be over there again yesterday (Wednesday)... and the display was completely gone. Not a single unit left. We asked the clerk; he said all 200 boxes had been snapped up within a day. As we stood there, other clerks told customer after customer, stacked up in line, that the AirPort Expresses were, unfortunately, sold out.

This thing's flying off shelves faster even than the iPod did. I think Apple's figured out how to hit all the right notes—and they're riding the waves of customer demand, springboarding off each new interference crest with new toy after new toy, catapulting themselves into a lead like they've never enjoyed before.

I've noticed a problem, though: if you hook up the AirPort Express via the digital optical cable, each time you start a new track playing, you lose about one second's worth of sound—it's like the receiver has to waste a fair amount of time auto-synchronizing to the signal format, and the song cuts in about a second after it starts. (It doesn't happen if you hook it up via analog.) This is really ugly, and I've sent in a bug report to Apple—I hope it's something they can fix. I'm sure they can.


14:10 - Another bunch of jokes ruined
http://www.deanesmay.com/posts/1091094922.shtml

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Dean Esmay makes an excellent point over here, to add to the ongoing debate over religious/ethnic profiling in counterterrorism measures.

Events on the ground keep throwing our conventional wisdom into a cocked hat; we'd better be equipped to turn our policies on a dime, the way Israel does. We could learn a thing or two.


11:19 - Pettable Furniture

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This is a dog who knows how to get comfortable:



He arranged those cushions himself.

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© Brian Tiemann